Facebook is likely to release information about its secretive cryptocurrency project, codenamed Libra, as soon as June 18, TechCrunch reports.
As is traditional with new cryptocurrencies, the social networking giant is expected to release a so-called “white paper” outlining how the currency works and the company’s plans for it.
The coin is expected to be a stablecoin, meaning that it would be pegged in value to one or more traditional currencies, like the dollar or euro, to keep it from fluctuating too widely in value. Keeping the coin at a stable price can take some financial maneuvering, but Facebook almost certainly has the funds and access to the expertise needed to back the coin at a steady level. Price fluctuations have arguably made it harder for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum to become popular payment tools, even as they’ve been attractive to investors and speculators.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.
It’s been widely speculated that Facebook would allow users of the coin to transmit it through its messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Developing its own coin could let Facebook bypass credit card and bank fees as users transmit money around its network, even if they send money to users in other countries. And keeping it integrated with those widely popular apps could help bring it the kind of mainstream success other cryptocurrencies haven’t yet achieved.
Payment through chat apps like WeChat has become ubiquitous in China, but Facebook and its messaging rivals have yet to fill the same role elsewhere.
It’s also unclear how regulators would react to Facebook rolling out such a product. Rival messaging service Kik was recently sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission over an initial coin offering held in 2017, with the SEC arguing the token was an unregistered security. Keeping the Facebook coin at a steady price might help any regulators’ fears that it’s an unregulated investment vehicle, but regulators and lawmakers might still worry about Facebook looking to extend its social media dominance into the money transmission arena.