We know Facebook has been hiring cryptocurrency experts and building a blockchain team for a while, but the scope, aims, and timeline of the project are all unknown.
A new report by the New York Times claims Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency as early as the first half of this year.
According to the report, Facebook has several blockchain-based projects in mind, but the one that’s most likely to launch first is a type of stablecoin. These are cryptocurrencies tied to the value of traditional assets, such as fiat currency or gold; the NYT’s sources claim Facebook is looking to launch a stablecoin whose value would be tied to a basket of currencies.
This is in line with an earlier report which claimed that Facebook is looking to launch a cryptocurrency to enable Whatsapp users to do remittances.
The new report, however, claims that the project is advanced enough that Facebook is talking to cryptocurrency exchanges about listing the coin, which could launch as early as the first half of 2019.
Earlier this month, following an acquihire of the team behind crypto project Chainspace, Facebook told Mashable that the company is “exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology.”
“This new small team is exploring many different applications,” a Facebook spokesperson said at the time.
But the Times report says the team isn’t really that small, with more than 50 engineers working on the project.
The report also highlights messaging apps Telegram and Signal, claiming both of them also plan to roll out their cryptocurrencies over the next year. Telegram’s massive initial coin offering (ICO) which never went past the private funding stage is well documented. As for Signal, its founder Moxie Marlinspike is an advisor to a private crypto payments platform called MobileCoin which raised $30 million in funding this year and is reportedly looking to raise the same amount this year as well.