By CCN: Zcash developer Zooko Wilcox, who has previously opined that cryptocurrencies can be used to evade taxes, posted an “unpopular opinion” to Twitter today: Facebook’s crypto project is “awesome.”
Facebook Coin: “Awesome”?
Unpopular opinion: I think the fact that Facebook is working on a crypocurrency is awesome.
— zooko (@zooko) May 24, 2019
Facebook’s cryptocurrency project is a long way from the days of pseudonymous bitcoin or opaque Monero. Tied to the verified user accounts of more than a billion people, transactions made via Facebook will be easier to audit than anything previously seen.
The company’s penchant for occasionally purging people based on political ideas and public perception goes hand in hand with the cryptonaught’s greatest fear: a non-fungible, censorship-embracing “cryptocurrency” that merely acts as a fiduciary tool for the surveillance state.
I think any contributions to the space are net positive. Would prefer efforts went to building on bitcoin, but recognize volatility would be a non-starter. Unclear how exchange rates and regulatory complexities will be handled. And if a stablecoin, what currency is it pegged to?
— Andrew Z Puschel (@AndrewPuschel) May 24, 2019
There are several reasons the founder of a semi-anonymous cryptocurrency might embrace contributions from a giant like Facebook. He may be referring to the general good that can come from large outfits contributing to crypto development. Facebook’s contributions in other aspects of technology are notable. React and a few other projects have objectively advanced the modern internet.
Side benefits to Facebook’s crypto foray include things like more blockchain jobs with higher salaries. Facebook recently ingested some Coinbase people, and this trend is likely to continue.
Exposure to Crypto is Paramount
But perhaps the most important potential benefit from a Facebook crypto endeavor is the mass exposure to crypto fundamentals. The platform’s massive user base will be exposed to cryptocurrency. Facebook has limited exposure to crypto by banning things like crypto advertising as do other mainstream platforms.
That will be a gateway to Bitcoin
— The L (@Fresh0ffTheB0at) May 24, 2019
For his part, Wilcox doesn’t comment much on his reasoning. He thinks it’s fantastic and he knows that’s not a popular opinion. Most would prefer that Facebook leverage some existing technology, but both Facebook and Telegram seem staunch on putting their stamp on blockchain tech.
There is a wide range of views on anything Facebook does. The world’s biggest social network faces staunch disruption from a variety of angles, including younger generations preferring more immediate ways to communicate and privacy-respecting social media platforms like Minds.com. Some think Facebook’s corporate approach to crypto is part of its attempt to stay relevant in changing times, and a means to “co-opt” the financial system at large.
Unlike Bitcoin, Facebook doesn't want to use its crypto-currency to bring down the established financial system. It wants to co-opt it https://t.co/p7EcD0pgXK
— Bloomberg Opinion (@bopinion) May 24, 2019
While this is not inconceivable, the way future generations view money will be entirely different from current ones. For example, this reporter’s generation would have balked at the idea of paying for content online, by and large. We were used to an Internet where the most you’d have to pay is a slightly slower page load. Up-and-coming generations are ingratiated in a world where you pay for items in mobile games. You pay for games without ever owning a physical copy. Most everything you buy is with a card rather than cash.
Which creates one value proposition for cryptocurrencies: all these credit card details floating around the world’s servers present an ongoing risk. Cryptocurrencies, at their best, are an alternative payment system that is both anti-fragile and more secure. It remains to be seen what aspects of crypto finance Facebook will actually leverage. Will there be savings accounts, Facebook’s answer to Western Union – Facebook ATMs?
Whatever happens, it’s not bad for crypto if Facebook and even Google get into the crypto space. Just as we have open source solutions for nearly everything the monoliths offer, we will always have our cipherpunk-inspired crypto projects. The chances of them being more attractive for most purposes are high. Facebook may, in fact, be doing an “awesome” good deed on behalf of cryptocurrency, if unwittingly.
Hear more from Zooko Wilcox in the following interview on the What Bitcoin Did podcast.