Facebook opened 2018 with a blanket ban on all cryptocurrency, blockchain and initial coin offerings (ICOs) products, including advertisements for such. Even content from digital currency vloggers was banned from the platform. The tech giant was particularly vigilant that its platform was not proliferated by investment and advertising scams related to cryptocurrency.

Facebook lifted that ban by June, with many observers saying that it may have recognized the massive revenue potential with cryptocurrency-related products.

By early December, eagle-eyed watchers noticed Facebook posting job vacancies for blockchain experts.

Now, Facebook is currently designing a cryptocurrency that can be used for money transfers via its WhatsApp messaging app, Bloomberg reported, citing people with direct knowledge on the company’s plan.

The sources said Facebook will initially focus on all related developments in India where there are more than 200 million WhatsApp users. The country is also big in remittances where people transferred as much as $69 billion in 2017, according to data from the World Bank.

If this report is true, Facebook could be the largest tech company to bet on the market viability of cryptocurrency despite its seemingly love-hate relationship with the technology.

Facebook changed stance on cryptocurrency

When Facebook banned all advertisers of cryptocurrency, blockchain and ICOs, whether they were legit, notwithstanding if their businesses and operations were within what laws allowed, the company wanted to assure the platform could not be exploited by untrusted content.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception. That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith,” Rob Leathern, Facebook Product Management Director, wrote.

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Facebook later announced a reversal of the ban, allowing advertisers to promote ICOs and digital currencies provided they submit an application and got pre-approved by Facebook. Requirements for applications included submitting licenses companies obtained from appropriate agencies. They must also submit paperwork on their public listing and other verifiable public documents.

In May, ahead of its reversal, Facebook set up a small group that will focus on the blockchain. By August, Facebook executive David Marcus left his board seat from Coinbase, citing “conflict of interest.”

Hiring spree for blockchain personnel spotted on Facebook’s career page

Prior to Bloomberg’s report, cryptocurrency experts were quick to notice that Facebook started posting job vacancies looking for people with skills in designing digital currencies. The potential employees will be deployed to Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Among these positions were blockchain data scientist, blockchain data engineer, blockchain software engineer and product marketing lead.

Still, the tech giant remained mum about the reported development.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share,” the company said in a statement.

Bloomberg additionally noted, however, that Facebook now has more or less 40 people in its intended small group of blockchain employees.

India has nearly half a million internet users. (Source)

A multimillion market that’s hard to resist

Facebook reportedly has its sleeves up on a stablecoin, a kind of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar. This would mean that the currency has price stability and could be backed by reserve assets, making it more resilient to volatility.

Facebook is still far from introducing the coin, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg. The company is still studying custody assets and a strategic design where a long-time currency could be used to protect the value of the planned stablecoin.

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The tech giant has all the reason to take cautionary steps with this undertaking as there were already numerous entities that failed in their attempts to introduce stablecoins.

Not even stablecoin Basis, a digital currency backed by Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm, and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, has survived a market crash. Its biggest hurdle was attaining a legitimate category as a secured currency which is the biggest factor to draw in potential buyers.

Tether, meanwhile, which currently is the most popular and traded stablecoin, remained to be suspicious for some governments and financial agencies as its creators refused to undergo an audit.

On the other hand, stablecoins’ market potential is something that is hard to be turned away from, especially if Facebook plans to roll out the platform in India where there are currently about 480 million internet users. This number is expected to grow to 737 million by 2022.

While India is second only to China in terms of the number of internet users, the Southeast Asian country remains the number one country with the most number of Facebook users as of October 2018. Most recent data from Statista showed that India has 294 million Facebook users. The U.S. was only ranked at number 2 with only 204 million Facebook users.

Indeed, Facebook India recorded a 40 percent increase in its net profit for its financial year 2017 to 2018. The Facebook India Online services, which included WhatsApp and Instagram, recorded a 52 percent jump for the year ended March 2018.

*This post is credited to BornToInvest

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Facebook–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.

*This post is credited to EthereumWorldNews

The idea that a company as powerful and autocratic as Facebook Inc. would ever dive into crypto-currencies has always seemed a bit like the Death Star deciding to throw a staff Christmas party.

Whether it’s the Bitcoin model itself (Wild West capitalism where nobody’s in charge) or the more corporate-friendly efforts to exploit the blockchain approach (distributed databases across networks within a business or industry) it’s been hard to see how a billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg might find a use for it. His entire business depends on centrally harvesting data to sell ads at a profit.

So it’s no surprise that Facebook’s latest step toward a blockchain product, as reported by Bloomberg News last week, looks like more of a simple co-opting of the technology for a pretty humdrum payment system rather than any headlong rush to join the crypto-revolution.

The company’s digital token, still in its infancy, would let users transfer money on WhatsApp, focusing first on the remittances market in India. It would be a so-called “stablecoin,” which are usually pegged to a currency like the dollar to minimize volatility. There would be a pool of assets stored in custody to protect it.

One can already hear the howls of anguish from the crypto-evangelists. This is not a token designed to displace fiat currencies or soar in price. In theory, one FaceCoin would never be more valuable than the $1 backing it (although in practice, markets can do funny things). It’s essentially an online IOU.

Zuckerberg is hardly inventing the wheel here given that migrant workers already sent home $69 billion to India last year, and India isn’t a ripe crypto-market anyway after its central bank virtually outlawed digital currencies this year. Facebook would be competing instead with services like PayPal’s Xoom, or WorldRemit, or even Western Union. Society might become more cashless as a result, but it’s not going to be any more crypto.

The prophets of blockchain had once imagined that they could create a way for individuals to control and sell their own personal data rather than letting Big Tech profit from doing it. But Facebook’s project looks like the reverse: Locking users more securely within its walled garden by offering them an in-house currency. Zuckerberg and his lieutenants have long been resistant to giving up control of the data; naturally so, given how lucrative it is.

So rather than fix the internet giants, blockchain is itself being repaired. Crypto startups that promised to liberate the world from the yoke of capitalism now can’t even keep their own staff gainfully employed. Facebook’s approach is to take the blockchain’s broken pieces and fashion something far more acceptable to shareholders. This won’t please people who fear its monopoly power, and for good reason. One more thing for regulators to chew on.

*This post is credited to Bloomberg

Facebook is reportedly working on a cryptocurrency for global payments.

The social media giant plans to use a digital currency to focus on small payments in India, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

But it’s not using bitcoin. Instead, the tech giant reportedly plans to use a “stablecoin,” a digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar. Cryptocurrencies have been marked by volatility this year, often seesawing 10 or 15 percent in a single day. Stablecoins however mirror the price of a government-backed currency and could solve the issue of volatility.

The company’s hiring of former PayPal President David Marcus sparked rumors that Facebook would eventually dive into financial services. Marcus moved to Facebook to run its messenger app in 2014, and now runs the company’s secretive blockchain initiative.

Facebook is one of many tech and financial services giants at least exploring blockchain, the technology underlying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Amazon, J.P. Morgan, Walmart and IBM are among other well-known companies testing the technology. Its potential has been compared to the internet but so has its hype.

Still, few established U.S. companies have embraced cryptocurrencies themselves. CEOs from Jamie Dimon to Warren Buffett have bashed bitcoin and warned investors of the speculative bubble as it ushered in retail buyers last year. The world’s largest cryptocurrency is down more than 70 percent in 2018 alone, according to data from CoinDesk.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has gained traction in India, where remittance payments are big business. According to the World Bank, people sent $69 billion from other countries into India last year.

*This post is credited to CNBC

As a person of a certain age, Facebook is more meaningful to me than any fish-lips selfie or desire to bring out my inner influencer. It’s a nice way to spend a few moments a day taking an inventory of friends, family and acquaintances and marvel at the joys and sorrows that are the human journey. I know I’m not alone. But I spent the weekend commiserating with my dwindling number of Facebook cohorts who know that they are in abusive relationships with their social media of choice.

It was one thing to have to look at an ad or two, many of which were perfectly targeted. It’s another thing for them to get rich off of my personal information, make democracy less tamper-proof and then start covering up their tracks through crafty PR schemes.

I never went to Facebook for reality (if you did, you’d know that your friends can’t possibly be having that much fun or drama). I don’t mind that Facebook knows something about my love of country decor or low-fat recipes. In the end, that’s beneficial. I also set up my preferences according to what seemed like their heartfelt concern for my safety. So, this is not a rant; it’s a thank you note. And this is the thanks I get?

The paid advertising model has been egregiously abused by Facebook. And the hemorrhaging has begun. Trust has eroded. Viewership is down 20%. And 44% of users ages 18 to 29 have deleted the app from their phones in the past year.

Two major underpinnings of Facebook need serious fixing if there’s even a remote chance of climbing out of its self-inflicted muck. The first is personal identification — simply put, verifying that you are who you say you are. The second? A rewards system for being an engaged user. Both require major reconstruction, not just another Band-Aid or mea culpa.

The Data Dividend

At last year’s Techonomy Forum, David Kirkpatrick interviewed Chris Hughes, a former roommate of Mark Zuckerberg. Hughes suggested creating a “data dividend” to offset income inequality. He reasoned that, individually, our personal data has worth; collectively, we’re creating a commonwealth based on data. “I think it’s reasonable to ask that everyone who’s creating the data shares in a little bit of the upside,” said Hughes. Pandora’s box.

Think about it. Grocery and department stores have rewarded loyalty forever in the form of coupons, discounts and cash back. In some form or another, they are giving their best customers a chance to share in their profits. Shouldn’t social media do the same?

Enter Blockchain

While they might live in a bubble, Facebook execs do not live under a rock. Earlier in the year, they announced the formation of a blockchain team reporting to David Marcus, a former PayPal executive. The blockchain, though limited in scalability and speed at the moment, presents a perfect new scaffolding for Facebook to provide ID authentication, proof of origin and ownership. It would allow those who share their IPs, time and personal IDs with Facebook communities to be rewarded, be it in cash, crypto or Facebucks (I get the royalties if they go with “Facebucks.” Techonomy can have it if they go with “FaceCoin“).

Vinny Lingham, creator of Civic — a platform that, among other things, verifies identity without the need for usernames or passwords — thinks it’s the will, not the way, that Facebook lacks. “The technology to solve the problem exists, but I’m not sure the will or short-term economic benefits are in alignment to force any change in the status quo,” he says.

A new generation of more equitable social media communities is forming as we speak. IOVO, Sapien, Streambed, Steemit and Live Planet (full disclosure: my company has worked with Streambed and Live Planet in the past) are just a few of the blockchain-based companies with variants on the “identify yourself” and “earn for your participation” theme. The days of allowing companies to monetize personal data are quickly coming to a close. I’d go with Facebucks.

*This post is credited to Forbes

After consolidating itself as the leading company in the world of social networks, Facebook has decided to intensify its efforts to enter the world of crypto and blockchain technologies in an attempt to expand its business model.

According to a report from the tech news portal Cheddar, Facebook has been quietly but resolutely focusing on research and development related to Blockchain technologies and perhaps exploring the creation of a proprietary cryptocurrency.

As reported by Ethereum World News, back in May, Facebook created a Blockchain Development Department, with David Marcus at the head. At the time, Marcus commented that he had in mind to start with a small group of people to explore the various possibilities without talking about any particular type of interest:ve, or new ways to share information.

” I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch …  However, it seems that the potential offered by blockchain technologies is greater than what the Facebook team expected, and since that time, more than 40 new members have joined the division among which stands out an important group of “former PayPal execs.”

According to information published by the Web 2.0 behemoth, the use of blockchain technologies could be oriented to areas related to the economy or the data transmission.

[Facebook’s] ultimate goal is to help billions of people with access to things they don’t have now, which could be things like equitable financial services, new ways to save, or new ways to share information.

However, Facebook has kept the research and work of this team as secretive as possible. After being asked about Mr. Zuckerberg’s expectations of this department, a spokesperson commented that he could not give more details besides the exploratory character that this team has at the moment.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”

Hiring people with experience in both tech and economic business may provide one more hint at Facebook’s intentions. However, it is not yet sure what could Mark Zuckerberg be aiming at. According to an analysis by Ethereum World News Reporter, Mr. John Njui, a native token or cryptocurrency could be particularly helpful for Facebook in many areas:

“With over 2 Billion active monthly users, Facebook cannot ignore the fact that such a user base can use a native cryptocurrency for the following purposes:

  • Pay for subscriptions on the social media platform
  • Pay for ads not to be displayed on their news feed
  • Rewarding users for CPU usage (mining)
  • Tipping rather than just liking posts
  • Paying business ads on the platform
  • Expanding its already existing marketplace to allow it to transcend international borders
  • Launching a crypto wallet with exchange services
  • Micropayments fused with cross-border transactions”

*This post is credited to Ethereum World News

Facebook is hiring.

The social media giant now has five job openings for blockchain talent at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters in the areas of data science, software engineering and marketing.

While the firm’s possible plans for blockchain have not yet been revealed, the ads on its careers pages state that the ultimate goal is to help “billions of people with access to things they don’t have now.” It further cites “equitable financial services, new ways to save, or new ways to share information” as some potential use cases for the tech.

Facebook launched its blockchain team in May, with the reported aim of exploring the emerging technology. The team is headed by David Marcus, who had previously served as the company’s vice president of its Messenger app division. In June, the firm appointed one of its senior engineers, Evan Cheng, as its first “director of engineering, blockchain.”

In the ads, Facebook said that the blockchain division has been set up as a startup within the firm, and has the aim of making blockchain technology work at scale within the company.

For its data-focused roles, there are openings for a data scientist and a data engineer, with some of the requirements being described as quantitative analysis expertise, “informing solutions with a variety of data,” making product decisions and “building models of user behaviors for analysis or to power production systems.”

Facebook is also looking for two blockchain software engineers “who share a passion for tackling complexity and building platforms that can scale through multiple orders of magnitude,” one post reads.

A product marketing lead is also sought “to build and manage a new product marketing team focused in exploring the opportunity the blockchain will bring.” Perhaps indicating that Facebook is now considering more than merely exploring blockchain use cases, they must also manage the firm’s “product go-to-market plans.”

*This post is credited to CoinDesk

Facebook’s blockchain team is a hush project that the company has been keeping under wraps for months. The team, which started in May under the leadership of David Marcus, is currently looking for a head of business development. The division may be looking for more allies, for which they need someone with experience and proficiency in dealmaking. There are a total of six job openings in the division, signifying rapid development.

No Small Feat to Get Hired by Facebook

Aside from a business development head, the company currently has five more job openings. One is for a public policy manager, another for a media director, two jobs in marketing and one for a software engineering manager in Israel.

The social networking giant’s posting of “Head of Business Development & Partnerships” is open at its Silicon Valley headquarter. It requires someone with at least 15 years of experience in business development. The company wants a candidate who can “Lead, grow and mentor a global team of experienced business development professionals.”

For Facebook, partnerships and acquisitions have been the standard of doing business. It expanded its reach into instant messaging by buying WhatsApp for $19 billion. Later, it went on to buy Instagram for $1 billion and then Oculus, a virtual reality hardware developer, for $2 billion. The company has been expanding in different areas, turning into a humongous corporation in the process. The new dealmaker could help in forwarding the company’s mission to get another blockchain company on board.

The job posting doesn’t detail if mergers and acquisitions will be part of the business development lead’s job, but it states that such person will work on “strategy and investments while also negotiating and closing deals.”

What Is the Blockchain Team at Facebook Doing?

Little is known about the Facebook blockchain team and its functions. In his January 2018 mission statement, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he is interested in blockchain technology as it decentralizes power, but nothing happened in the public eye for four months. However, in May, the leader of Facebook Messenger, David Marcus, was called upon to head a “small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”

Marcus also served on the board of Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the US. He stepped down from his role in August. The company hasn’t revealed anything about its plans yet, but a close look at the job posting suggests that an artificial intelligence platform could be in the making. The company could also focus on “new ways to share information” while developing new financial services.

*This post is credited to Blokt

If you are a netizen, you must have already noticed how certain ads pop up while you are surfing videos on YouTube. Most of the times, these advertisements have close connections to the products and brands you have been searching recently. However, this is not the case always! Finding fake ads of reputed brands like Mercedes-Benz and Waitrose is not uncommon at all. According to reports from The Times of London, several reputed brands have found their advertisements among objectionable and explicit content.

Why should you care about online ad fraud?
If you are an advertiser, this should be a cause of concern for you. According to a recent study, over 20% of the clicks you are getting on your ads can be from bots and tricksters. Censoring the internet and running the entire web without advertisement is impossible. In short, good content and commendable user experience require sponsorship.

Sadly, advertisers are pouring money into digital ads, but they are not receiving the returns they expect. The advent of various smart devices may have expanded the scope of viewing content, but they have done little to ensure that the content is genuine.

According to the Association of National Advertisers, entrepreneurs are wasting over $7 billion on online adverts people do not see. The experts expect the numbers to grow beyond $335.5 billion in the next two years. When companies are ready to spend billions on online advertisements, it is understandable why malicious activities are always around the corner, waiting.

We have seen the likes of Meth-bot that cost the ad industry around $5 million per day. They used bots to mimic human data, created over 250,000 individual domains. These new sites had a resemblance to big fish like ESPN and Vogue.

Digital ad fraud is a serious concern for advertisers and users, too. While the fraudsters use bots to mimic human behavior, trace cursor movements, and hack social media accounts, they fake their geo-location data to avoid detection. As a result, along with regular display ads, the premium online video advertisements are also taking a hit. Digital fraudsters are messing up analytical data, upturning the KPIs and disrupting online campaigns of many of the more reputable brands in the world.

Blockchain as a potential solution to online fraud
Is there any current technology that can prevent pixel stuffing, ad stacking, search ad frauds and affiliate ad frauds? Experts say that it’s possible. They believe that advertisers can prevent similar frauds by turning to blockchain. We are not talking about cryptocurrencies, but the decentralized open-source ledgers.

A fusion of existing ad technology and blockchain can give advertisers the power to keep an eye on each impression and eliminate the fear of fraud. Leading advertising research firms like Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab and Data & Marketing Associations already are working on creating a blockchain solution that can help advertisers detect and prevent fraudulent activities. However, the wide variety of online ad frauds make the task of developing a uniform system difficult.

Below are the major use cases of blockchain that can be implemented to prevent online ad frauds:

Ethereum-based ready solutions – Several startups and advertising research companies have been working on blockchain systems that can stop bots and impostors. Ethereum is the best-known blockchain right after Bitcoin. Instead of a central ad server, it offers a decentralized system to advertisers to monitor the activity of their partners. Google, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat have adopted similar history-proof, decentralized ledgers.

Blockchain counterattack – This mechanism adopted by the Ads.txt DApp allows publishers and content owners to list the authorized sellers of their inventory in a .txt file. This file is served from within the root path of their domain’s web server.

Blockchain-based exchange for traders – A combination of the financial matching engine and the latest blockchain technology allows advertisers to enable transparent transactions. It is a NASDAQ Inc. initiative that aims to provide advertisers and publishers a completely secure platform that supports buying, selling and re-trading advertising contracts.

In the digital era, online ads are an important channel for brands to use to reach out to their target audience. Ad fraud not only puts a hole in the pocket of the brands but also harms the end users, who need reliable information to make the right decisions. With the ability to impart transparency to the system and trace an online asset, blockchain can surely help reduce, if not completely stop digital fraud.

*This post is credited to isaca.org.

Companies don’t want to be left off of the blockchain bandwagon.

In a new report published by PwC on Monday, 84 percent of executives surveyed said their companies are “actively involved” with the technology.

“Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind,” according to PwC’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, which included 600 executives from 15 territories.

Blockchain is the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It records transactions on a public, distributed ledger and gets rid of the need for a third party in most cases. The technology is touted as faster and more secure by advocates and is being tested for everything from health records to the legal marijuana industry.

Among the PwC respondents, who were business executives with technology responsibilities, 45 percent said “trust” could be the key roadblock in blockchain’s widespread adoption.

“In reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn,” PwC said. “As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain’s reliability, speed, security and scalability.”

While high profile investors like Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon have been publicly wary of investing in cryptocurrency, they’re far more bullish on its underlying tech.

Companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are exploring use cases for the technology. Facebook announced in May it is going through a reorganization that will include a new blockchain effort. IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, JP Morgan, and HSBC are among the other corporate names with similar initiatives.

Still, respondents mentioned regulatory uncertainty, “ability to bring the network together,” compliance concerns, and intellectual property concerns as key obstacles for blockchain adoption.

Blockchain’s potential has been compared to the internet but so has its hype. In some well-publicized cases, even adding the word “blockchain” to a public company’s name can send its shares skyrocketing in a single day.

Despite the growing interest, other research from Cowen estimated it will take 5.9 years for blockchain to gain widespread adoption.

*Post is credited to CNBC