Facebook Is Reportedly Pursuing a Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp

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Thanks to Facebook’s incessant flood of wrongdoing making headlines nearly daily, any of us would be forgiven for forgetting about its pivot to the blockchain. But the social media giant’s cryptocurrency is reportedly still on, even as it becomes increasingly clear that nothing is sacred online and the internet was maybe a mistake.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Thursday that Facebook’s long-rumored cryptocurrency is in development and will allow users to exchange currency through its encrypted chat service WhatsApp. But don’t expect it super soon:

The company is developing a stablecoin—a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar—to minimize volatility, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal plans. Facebook is far from releasing the coin, because it’s still working on the strategy, including a plan for custody assets, or regular currencies that would be held to protect the value of the stablecoin, the people said.

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The company is currently eyeing the remittances market in India, Bloomberg said. A spokesperson for Facebook told Bloomberg the company “is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” and that its new crypto outfit headed by PayPal’s former president David Marcus is “exploring many different applications.” Marcus announced in May on—where else—Facebook that he would be leaving the company’s Messenger team to join its blockchain division.

“After nearly four unbelievably rewarding years leading Messenger, I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge,” Marcus said at the time. “I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”

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A potentially imminent cryptocurrency wasn’t the only thing that had WhatsApp in the news this week. Citing a report from two Israeli NGOs, TechCrunch reported Thursday that WhatsApp is now looking at a serious encrypted child pornography problem on its platform—one that its parent company Facebook has (surprise!) failed to get its hands around.

Facebook’s Year From Hell continues, but its crypto ambitions appear to remain very much alive.

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[Bloomberg, TechCrunch]

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