Facebook Launches Ambitious Fintech Company Focused on Blockchain

In a sign that the social media company is getting serious about crypto, Facebook has set up a fintech startup called Libra Networks. The company was registered in Geneva on May 2, and plans submitted to the Swiss commercial register show that the startup will provide financial and technology services as well as develop related hardware and software.

The social media giant would not immediately comment on Libra Networks, and little information is available publicly about the project as of yet. However, rumors have been swirling for over a year that Facebook has become involved with cryptocurrencies, and Libra Networks—which the Swiss commercial register reveals will focus on “investing, payments, financing, identity management, analytics, big data, blockchain and other technologies”—seems to support Facebook’s goal of developing a cryptocurrency payments plan.

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Specifically, it appears that Libra Networks is designed to support the secretive cryptocurrency payments system known as Project Libra that Facebook is believed to have been developing. This service would include a stablecoin that is pegged to a basket of diverse foreign currencies (instead of just the U.S. dollar) and would allow users of Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service to send money between themselves.

Facebook appears to be rapidly gathering resources to support its emerging crypto payments system. A report conducted by the New York Times revealed that Facebook currently has over 50 engineers working on its Project Libra cryptocurrency. The company has also made a significantly number of new hires in its blockchain department recently. The Times’ report also cited sources that say that Facebook is looking to join its encrypted mobile-messaging apps with Instagram to extend the reach of its new cryptocurrency even further.

Against this backdrop, Facebook has instituted some changes regarding cryptocurrency-related advertising. Ads related to blockchain technology, education, industry news or events will no longer need pre-approval.

Not everyone is pleased with these latest developments. Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee issued an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting further information on his company’s cryptocurrency project—specifically how such a cryptocurrency payments system would function in regard to regulatory, legal, consumer protection and privacy concerns.