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Facebook Announces Global Digital Currency, Financial Infrastructure Built on Blockchain Technology

Facebook shows a sneak peek of what using Calibra will be like.

Facebook today announced a newly formed subsidiary, named Calibra, to provide financial services. The first product Calibra will introduce, according to the company, is a digital wallet for Libra, a new global currency Facebook has created on top of a blockchain technology. The wallet is expected to launch in 2020 and available in Messenger, WhatsApp as well as a standalone app.

As easy as text message: Facebook says Calibra will let people 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." Company is also hoping to eventually allow people and businesses be able to use the platform to pay bills with the push of a button, buy coffee and ride local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.

The privacy thing: Facebook has indicated, as might be expected, that it will take steps to protect users' privacy. Quoting from today's announcement, the company says: "Aside from limited cases, 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."

"European regulators are already pressing Facebook about its cryptocurrency." Colin Lecher reporting in The Verge: "European officials quickly called for scrutiny of the plan, raising concerns over whether the project was sufficiently regulated. ... A German member of the European Parliament expressed similar concerns [stating] Facebook was at risk of becoming a 'shadow bank' and that companies 'must not be allowed to operate in a regulatory nirvana when introducing virtual currencies.'"

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