As you may have heard, with headlines starting to flood the web, Facebook has reportedly developed its own cryptocurrency. Said to be called GlobalCoin (which frankly is more generic than we might the expected), it was built with backing from several major companies – most notably Uber, PayPal, and even Visa. This development has been rumored for some time, but it’s starting to seem as if we may finally be on the cusp of the new currency’s release. However, we still don’t know too much about it beyond the basics, and the key question remains:
How will it be used?
We can’t answer that any better than anyone else seems to be able to right now, but we can at least look at some of the possibilities, based on the aforementioned development partners and on Facebook’s practices in general.
The obvious application for GlobalCoin will be social transactions through Facebook itself. The company already implemented a peer-to-peer cash transfer function a little while back, and though it’s gotten surprisingly little attention, it would seem to have laid a foundation for a GlobalCoin tool. The basic idea, one assumes, will be for users to transfer funds to one another, when needed, through GlobalCoin.
Uber Account Integration
This may not be the most adventurous guess, but given that Uber helped bring GlobalCoin to life, it stands to reason that it will want a say in how it’s used. Some have already speculated about ride-sharing services potentially getting into the cryptocurrency game, since all involved payments are processed through mobile phones already. With a stake in GlobalCoin, Uber could be poised to ask customers to link up by Facebook and make their payments through cryptocurrency – at least for those drivers who prefer the option.
Facebook has pushed (and redesigned) its Marketplace continually, in an effort to gain a bigger presence in digital payments and commerce. It’s hard to imagine exactly what form this will take, but in a vague sense it’s easy to imagine Facebook putting GlobalCoin to use by pushing any and all major online retailers to accept it. Whether this occurs through Facebook itself or via a PayPal- or Amazon Pay-type action on retail sites is anybody’s guess. But particularly given Visa’s interest in helping to get GlobalCoin off the ground, this general sort of retail integration appears likely.
Gaming may sound like a niche, but it’s a massive market unto itself, and one in which PayPal in particular is quite active as things stand. In addition to helping people pay for some ordinary PC games and purchases through major consoles’ online stores, PayPal also occupies significant space in the global online casino business. PayPal-based gaming platforms support a major portion of casino gaming in New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Canada, and – this being a sector that’s already shown interest in cryptocurrency – it could help give way for GlobalCoin usage among millions of gamers.
Luring Bitcoin Users
In a less functional sense, we’ll close by nothing that GlobalCoin could also be used largely to lure some bitcoin users away – not in the specific interest of harming bitcoin, but simply as a means of generating activity for Facebook. The company has the interesting advantage of being a known service – perhaps not “trusted” in the sense that many are increasingly frustrated by some of the company’s ethics and practices, but certainly trusted in a technological sense. This means that by introducing its own digital currency, Facebook can earn loyalty and drive people to use in a way bitcoin has struggled to do with newcomers.