Libra - Thoughts on the Potential Effects on the Crypto Sphere
Libra - Thoughts on the Potential Effects on the Crypto Sphere
Earlier this week, the rumours that Facebook would initiate a new blockchain project including a “stable-ish” cryptocurrency to form a new global financial infrastructure became true with the official announcement of “Libra” (previously dubbed as “Facebook Coin”, “Global Coin” and even the “Zucker Buck”).
Whether or not you like the Facebook platform, its organisation, its previous and current behaviour regarding privacy and data, and what you might think about Facebook’s reputation based upon that behaviour, it’s a fact the various app-based platforms Facebook already (co-)owns combined have an immense market reach, as billions people around the world use Facbook.com, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
With the announcement of the Libra Project, the website https://libra.org/ has been released as well, and I must say that that website in and by itself both looks amazing and very professional, and contains content that’s very well thought-out and promising at the same time.
Libra is also adopting the Open Source route: the main GitHub account https://github.com/libra/ has been created, and already 2 repos are included in it:
- https://github.com/libra/website , referring to what I’ve just described in the previous paragraph;
- https://github.com/libra/libra , containing “Libra Core” (currently a working prototype), with APIs and an early-stage testnet of the Libra blockchain software.
The Libra Whitepaper also mentions a new programming language called “Move”, with which smart contracts and translation logic will be implemented. More detailed technical information about the Move programming language has also already been published here: the Move Paper, including a CLI which can be installed already on Linux (RedHat / Debian) and MacOS systems, and tested for (test) account creation and (test) transactions.
Libra has the potential to become huge
It’s become clear, at least that’s the impression I get from this all, that Facebook is “going All-In” on Libra. To Facebook, apparently Libra isn’t just “some side-project”, not “some weak attempt” to “do something with blockchain and crypto as well as everybody else”, but a very powerful move to take a leadership role in initiating and catalysing a new financial ecosystem which has the potential to transform - disrupt even - the global economy as we know it. And it’s not just Facebook alone and by itself either: already 28 organisations across the globe, some very big brands including the likes of Visa & MasterCard, Uber, CoinBase, PayPal, Spotify, Ebay and Vodafone, have joined Facebook’s initiative to form the “Libra Association” as so-called “Founding Members”.
Facebook is aiming to on-board around 100 Founding Members before launching the Libra mainnet, now apparently scheduled to take place somewhere around January to June 2020.
To anybody involved in crypto already: Libra is Huge and if you haven’t already, I suggest to read-up about Libra and inform yourself as to what it could and probably will do for the world of crypto, so that you can make an informed decision about if and how to get involved.
A few potentially interesting Libra Key Aspects
the Calibra Facebook subsidiary & first-product digital wallet “Calibra”
One of the Libra Association Founding Members will be “Calibra”, a new Facebook subsidiary. As officially announced by Facebook here Calibra’s goal is
to provide financial services that will let people access and participate in the Libra network.
As a first product the Calibra subsidiary will introduce a similar dubbed digital wallet (“Calibra Wallet”) to store and transact Libra tokens with. Apparently this Calibra wallet will be functioning as a stand-alone app, as well as be integrated into WhatsApp and the Facebook Messenger app. The idea here seems to be introducing the Libra token and blockchain ecosystem to the billions of people already using Whatapp and FB Messenger.
Libra is open to externally-developed competing wallet apps and integrations
Interesting is the following statement made by Facebook’s “Head of Calibra” executive David Marcus in response to some (excellent!) questions asked by Bloomberg's interviewer Joe Weisenthal in this Bloomberg Technology video:
David Marcus stated literally (transcribed by me from this video interview):
While we are starting with a permission’ed blockchain on the nodes’ side of the house, the blockchain will be open, meaning that people and companies can build services on top of the blockchain. You don’t need to be a member of the Association to build a wallet on top of this new network, and as a result we will have a lot of competition for our own wallet.
With the Libra code repositories being Open Sourced, and directly following the aforementioned “wallet competition” statements, this will (probably) mean that the Libra token can’t only be acquired with fiat on-ramping, but via crypto exchanging as well.
Suppose (and this scenario seems highly probable even) crypto wallet and exchange Exodus integrates Libra into its existing app. Then exchanging crypto (for example Bitcoin) for Libra can be done within that app. Registering yourself on an exchange such as Binance, Bitstamp, and/or (Libra Founding Member) Coinbase isn’t needed to acquire, store and transact Libra tokens.
Libra vs mobile payment systems (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay)
If we combine Libra with recent payment technology advancements (using NFC, Near Field Communications, to let smart phones communicate with Point of Sale (POS) terminals), used by mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, then spending Libra crypto currency at just about any retail store using NFC-enabled PoS terminals becomes a reality.
With both Visa and MasterCard being among the Libra Association’s FoundingMembers, indeed, this scenario seems to become true very soon, potentially in 2020 already.
No Banks are among the early Libra Association Founding Members (yet!)
Interestingly, no banks are among the early Libra Association Founding Members yet.
Where some crypto enthusiasts may fear the (initial?) “semi-centralised” nature of the Libra blockchain, Libra seems to be mostly challenging the existing financial world instead of purely decentralised existing crypto projects such as - mainly - Bitcoin.
“Open Source” driving Libra adoption
In case Libra would be closed-source, not only would that fuel rumours that “Facebook has evil plans to become Big Brother”, but it would also imply Libra wouldn’t take off. However, Libra being Open Sourced and well-documented allows everybody to build their own tech solutions upon the Libra Core code base. “Project Libra” could become one of “Open Source’s” biggest achievements; in the same Champion’s Rankings as Linux, Wordpress and Bitcoin.
What could Libra mean for the CryptoSphere as a whole?
If I’d had to make a personal prediction on the future for Bitcoin with Libra entering the market, I could suffice with just one word: Bullish. Where today only several million people and a handful of early corporate crypto adopters have invested in Bitcoin, with the billions of people that are using not only Facebook’s today’s infrastructure consisting of both apps and a social interconnecting ecosystem, but are using the Libra Founding Members’ infrastructure as well, that means “just about everybody” will be using crypto very, very soon. In case wallet and exchange apps like Exodus integrate with Libra and become relatively mass-adopted as well, then Bitcoin’s Core Value proposition as being “Digital Gold” will become fully true.
Where Libra could grow and become a World Currency for day-to-day transactions, Bitcoin seems - IMO - to be positioned as a long-term investment class. And in case Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, which holds the potential for fast and permission-less almost zero-cost transactions as well, becomes wide-spread, where multi-wallets such as Exodus and/or the Coinable wallet app become fully-integrated with the aforementioned mobile payments solutions using NFC/PoS terminals and contain both Libra and Bitcoin, then everybody has a choice to pay with either Libra or Bitcoin - depending on their preferences.
On the other hand, there are smaller early-day crypto projects, such as Dash for example, that only (currently) have the potential to function as digital money, but lack a mass-scale user base. I’m “not-so-bullish” on the perspective of these kind of crypto projects.
Different types of crypto projects, that have a different potential and use case, including EOS, Cardano, Ethereum, IoteX & IOTA, Binance Coin and Steem, I’m bullish on as well: the use case of projects like these are completely different than Libra’s.
EOS’s Voice (not talking here about the potential of EOS as a decentralised Operating System as a whole), however, I’m not too bullish on. “Voice” seems to be positioned to directly challenge Facebook & Libra, without its multi-billion user base, without Libra’s Powerful Partner Network, with the only exception of “decentralised content”.
Steem on the other hand, I am bullish on. Steem is for example (as we all know) “multi-capable” (used for blogging, social interaction, gaming, decentralised token creation and exchange via Steem Engine, et cetera). I think SPS and EIP (HF21) will do away with many of the current Steem-related issues, therewith positioning Steem as a multi-faceted blockchain platform, community-driven, on which content creation and curation is rewarded, as is being entrepreneurial. Steem might perhaps remain “a niche platform”, but serves valid use cases and has the potential to survive, where many early day “alt projects” will probably be gone very soon with Libra on the rise.
The Future Seems Bright, so Steem On!
Thanks for reading!
Kind regards, @scipio