Facebook is finally ready to talk about its blockchain plans. Following numerous reports unraveling its upcoming announcement in detail, the company today said that its in-development global cryptocurrency, called Libra, will launch next year alongside the underlying blockchain-based network that will support it.
The currency is designed not to be a speculative asset, like Bitcoin, but a form of digital money backed by a reserve of assets. You will one day be able to use Libra as payment for online and offline services, Facebook executives say.
In the beginning, the company imagines Libra will be used mainly to transfer money between individuals in developing countries who lack access to traditional banks. Eventually, the goal is to create the first truly mainstream cryptocurrency: a decentralized global form of payment that is as stable as the dollar, can be used to buy almost anything, and can support an entire range of financial products — from banking to loans to credit.
Although Facebook is building Libra and plans to run the project through the end of this year, eventually it plans to cede the project to a larger community. The company has formed the nonprofit Libra Association with 27 other partners to oversee Libra and its development.
The partnership includes venture capital firms, nonprofit organizations, crypto firms, and massive corporate finance, telecommunications, and technology service providers, including Coinbase, MasterCard, Visa, eBay, PayPal, Stripe, Spotify, Uber, Lyft, and Vodafone.
The organizations will also contribute to what is known as the Libra Reserve, the asset pool that will ensure every unit of Libra currency is backed by something of intrinsic value rather than by simple scarcity, as Bitcoin is.