Facebook is building its new cryptocurrency through its WhatsApp messaging platform, The New York Times reported.
The company is hoping to develop a cryptocurrency that would let regular WhatsApp users send electronic cash to friends and family across international borders.
Although Facebook has been pretty secretive about its cryptocurrency development, five people briefed on the project said it will probably peg its cryptocurrency to the value of traditional currencies, as Bloomberg reported.
Most cryptocurrencies aren’t tied to any conventional currencies or otherwise backed by central authorities, as noted by Ars Technica. This helps boost the popularity of cryptocurrencies, but it can also lead to some of its downfalls.
If there’s no central authority like a government, users themselves are totally responsible for everything that happens. Last year, CNBC reported $1.1 billion in cryptocurrency was stolen.
“Unlike banks, cryptocurrency is typically not protected or insured by a third party,” CNBC reported, meaning if your cryptocurrency — like Bitcoin — is stolen, there’s nobody to help you get it back.
By tying its coin to traditional currencies, Facebook will have the benefit of stable value. People won’t have to worry that — if they hold onto their cryptocurrency — it could be worthless in the next week.
However, government regulators will probably impose more rules on Facebook as a result, like expecting it to comply with banking regulations. This poses a big question. Why is Facebook messing around with a blockchain system, when it seems to just be building another PayPal or Venmo? Right now, the answer is unclear.
According to The New York Times, Facebook employees have told exchanges they’re aiming to release a product in the first half of the year.