With 2b users, the prospect of charging small transaction fees on payments could net Facebook billions in revenue. A cryptocurrency could also offer Facebook a new way to monetize Whatsapp and perhaps reduce its reliance on advertising.
Tech companies in the US look jealously at China, where omni-service apps like Tencent’s WeChat have multiple revenue streams. Close to 60 per cent of WeChat revenue comes from payments. Less than a third is from advertising. If Facebook could create a digital currency that ties together multiple payments services it would also gain access to a wealth of new information that would make its advertising business more valuable. To achieve this Facebook will probably have to work with third parties. Debit cards together with Visa, perhaps. Or a tie-in with fintech company PayPal. Ex-PayPal boss David Marcus leads Facebook’s project.