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Facebook's digital currency, wallet target developing markets

Africa , 20 Jun 2019

Facebook's digital currency, wallet target developing markets

Facebook has unveiled plans to venture into the digital currency space with the announcement of Libra, a new global currency powered by blockchain technology.

Expected to launch in 2020, Facebook said the digital wallet will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app.

Justifying the need for the service, Facebook said while access to the internet has improved communication and connection, there are still challenges with saving, sending and spending.

Facebook said: "For many people around the world, even basic financial services are still out of reach: almost half of the adults in the world don't have an active bank account and those numbers are worse in developing countries and even worse for women. 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."

With Calibra, users can send Libra easily and instantly. Facebook is also planning to add additional services for people and businesses, including Libra to pay bills and for making daily transactions such as coffee purchase and as a means of payment for public transit.

Prior to the announcement of Calibra and Libra, Facebook has struggled to convince its users that their information would be kept safe in the light of evidence suggesting the company was sharing the data of its nearly 3 billion users with third parties.

Facebook noted it was aware of concerns over security and privacy, promising it will use the same verification and anti-fraud processes that banks and credit cards use.

"We'll have automated systems that will proactively monitor activity to detect and prevent fraudulent behavior," Facebook said.

The tech company also promised that Calibra will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without customer consent.

"This means Calibra customers' account information and financial data will not be used to improve ad targeting on the Facebook family of products," Facebook said.

Prospect for developing markets

Marcus Swanepoel, chief executive officer of cryptocurrency firm Luno said the launch of cryptocurrency by Facebook and other tech giants will establish developing markets as lead adopters.

"Our research shows that in these markets people are more financially savvy because they have to be, which means that they need and understand the benefits the new coins can offer," said Swanepoel.

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