Little is still known about Libra. But the purpose is clear: to transform Facebook subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp, (over 2 billion users worldwide) into platforms for transactions between private individuals, between individuals and businesses, between suppliers and businesses carried out with a new currency. As could easily be imagined, the Web where we are all potentially connected starts from the pleasure of exchanging holiday homes and reaches as far as Airbnb tourist maxi-platforms; from the availability of a car to Uber ridesharing services or home-delivered Amazon books and so on. It’s the so-called “disruption”, i.e. the ability to find customers via open platforms, stripping them of their traditional operators. It is also a sharing economy movement (“using” as opposed to “owning”), which starts out unpretentiously with the potential of developing into– and it actually happens – a multinational after a few years.
It is no coincidence that the companies with the largest market capitalization (i.e. with the highest value calculated on the current market price of one share, which is not necessarily the best) include e-commerce, instant messaging, search engines and related technologies. They have liquidity, they prefer to pay taxes where taxation rates are low, they accepted regulations and ethical standards after data theft, complaints, political criticism questioned their behaviour. They show a good face. With regimes they prefer reaching an agreement.
Facebook’s attempt with Libra is more complex. It deserves being attentively followed since at the moment it does not represent a global challenge comparable to Bitcoin, the mysterious cryptocurrency developed by its equally mysterious creator who goes under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, which central banks warned against and is object of countless allegations that range from “mere” speculation (it has a high volatile value, falling from 20 thousand to less than 4 thousand dollars, currently at 8-9 thousand dollars) to money-laundering schemes. This time Libra, launched by Facebook in partnership with payment networks and international groups,
Claims that by its launch in 2020 its value will be backed by a reserve of assets designed to mitigate volatility fluctuations
(a contract is hard to manage if the amount agreed in payment is subjected to a great change in value after a few months) and there appears to be no intention to challenge the central banks (ECB, Fed etc. that control and regulate the financial flows also for anti-inflation purposes).
The Facebook project reconfirms that whoever controls payment methods owns the keys of a goldmine that everyone wants to have access to in order to aggregate data on what people are looking for (it is very clear to search engines), where they are spending (it is very clear to the providers of payment methods or even the Libra currency) and deduce from algorithms where they will be purchasing. The gold of the mine is the data, if the project is successful it will count 1.5-1.7 billion people.