Facebook Targets Remittances, World’s Unbanked With Libra

The social media giant said it wants to reach people who lack access to financial services with its new cryptocurrency

Social media giant Facebook released more details of its prospective cryptocurrency this Tuesday, saying that it will be launching a wallet for its Libra cryptocurrency.

Called Calibra, the wallet will be available to users as a stand-alone mobile application, as well as being integrated into Facebook’s Messenger app and WhatsApp.

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Facebook said that it expects the application to be ready for use in the first half of 2020.

Emerging markets in its sights

A quick glance over the social media company’s statement and Libra’s new website is indicative of what the target market of this new cryptocurrency will be.

“For many people around the world, even basic financial services are still out of reach,” the company said in a statement. “The cost of that exclusion is high — approximately 70% of small businesses in developing countries lack access to credit and $25 billion is lost by migrants every year through remittance fees.

“This is the challenge we’re hoping to address with Calibra, a new digital wallet that you’ll be able to use to save, send and spend Libra.”

On the Libra website, Facebook also released a new video promoting the nascent cryptocurrency. That advert very clearly depicts countries in emerging markets, places that remittance payments are sent to most and which contain much of the world’s unbanked population.

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Facebook is the new WeChat

Aside from remittances and the unbanked, Facebook appears to be trying imitate its Chinese competitor WeChat – a messaging application that allows its billion-plus users to make payments.

“Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as you might send a text message and at low to no cost,” said the tech firm in its statement.

“And, in time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.”

Unlike many of its competitors in the market, Facebook is well positioned to tap into demands for cryptocurrency and introduce people to the world of digital assets.

Indeed, with 2.38 billion users – or 30 percent of the world’s population – the company will arguably the world’s largest central bank once Libra launches.

It is unclear as to what regulatory measures the company has taken to support Libra, though an executive at the company has said they want to work with authorities on developing laws to govern digital assets.

“It gives us a basis to go and have productive conversations with regulators around the world,” said Kevin Weil, VP of product at Facebook. “We’re eager to do that.”

 

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