Last week, EWN reported on an industry rumor that Facebook, the social media giant with over 2 billion active users, was in the process of developing a new stablecoin cryptocurrency. Details on the token included an emphasis on being used for payments via the WhatsApp messaging service, with a particular focus on expanding into the largely untapped digital payments market of India.
Some pundits have used the Facebook development as an opportunity to cast stones at the broader industry of cryptocurrency, with the argument that Big Tech is now taking the reins of the blockchain away. As opposed to cryptocurrency being used as a tool of subversion for the established tech industry, in a similar way that the digital asset side has the potential to circumvent traditional fiat, the rise of Facebook Coin is putting the more libertarian narrative into a flux.
However, the adoption of cryptocurrency by a company as large and entrenched in the global social system as Facebook is an indication that the technology is reaching a critical point of validation as opposed to being swallowed by the zeitgeist of established platforms. The road to Main Street, like all technologies, is paved through integration, not domination. Cryptocurrency and the underlying proof of blockchain is a multifaceted conceptualization, made up of tenets of usability and belief.
Will the crypto anarchists be upset that a mainstream corporation is co-opting their beloved technology? Possibly. The advent of Google and internet conglomerates did not slow down the juggernaut of file and data-sharing for those who saw the technology as a portal to freely distributed information. Cryptocurrency will find a similar footing for different groups based upon their necessities. Stablecoins provide Facebook and like-minded social media platforms a secure means for transferring value globally, while also providing the innovation of truly digital money. Bitcoin, like many other cryptocurrencies, holds a distinct position as a digital asset, one that can be freely traded, speculated on and treated as an investment property in addition to currency.
If cryptocurrency continues to gain footing in mainstream corporations–a revelation that few investors in the industry would be sad to see–the rise of privacy coins could be a logical extension. While Facebook, Twitter and other casual operations will prefer the lack of volatility found in stablecoins, others users of crypto may seek it out as a means of private transactions, finding more utility in anonymous coins such as Monero and the like.
The watermark for Bitcoin and other cryptos is being used to buy a coffee at Starbucks, not overthrowing governments. Facebook is not taking away from the industry by building their own coin–they’re contributing to the recognition of the industry as a legitimate technology and providing validation for its use.
The staunch libertarian and anarchic ethos that has been entwined with cryptocurrency since its conception was the radical, passionate fuel that was needed to light the fire of development. It’s not casual interest that would give someone belief in an industry down over $600 billion in one year–but a belief for the potential of a technology and a futureseeking vision of what it could become in society. Facebook adoption is the integration that will lead to crypto-ubiquity, not the nail in the coffin that some see it as.