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Facebook has announced its new digital currency, which will enable billions of people to send their money easily, securely, instantly, and at very low costs. All of this will happen online and through mobile apps.
The sole creation of the internet and expanding the network and connection all over the world have given billions of people access to an enormous amount of information. Thanks to the internet, we can easily share knowledge, update live news, and communicate with people despite the distance.
However, while we can easily exchange information even in the poorest regions of the world, there aren’t yet many solutions to transfer money and enable all of the people financially. There are still regions of the world with limited access to banking or international payments.
Libra shows the scale of the problem in their introduction:
“Despite this progress, large swaths of the world's population are still left behind — 1.7 billion adults globally remain outside of the financial system with no access to a traditional bank, even though one billion have a mobile phone and nearly half a billion have internet access.”
The second problem are the costs of banking in many regions:
“All over the world, people with less money pay more for financial services. Hard-earned income is eroded by fees, from remittances and wire costs to overdraft and ATM charges. Payday loans can charge annualized interest rates of 400 percent or more, and finance charges can be as high as $30 just to borrow $100.”
There have already been multiple attempts to solve the financial issue. The creation of bitcoin or instead its blockchain technology has significantly contributed to this process and opened up countless opportunities for fast, safe, and cheap payment systems to be created upon it. Thanks to this technology, a new type of independent digital coins has emerged.
Currently, there are already hundreds of online “crypto” coins, which allow exchanging the money easily internationally. By that definition and used technology, Libra will also become one of them. While some of them are being introduced as payment methods in various shops and marketplaces, the other part is being traded intensively on the exchanges. Maybe this time with Libra Coin and with the support of global financial companies, we will see a fully functional digital currency used for everyday payments and not market speculation.
The project has an impressive group of investors and supporters behind it. Apart from Facebook, there are also 27 other partners, including big companies such as Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, or a popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.
So the main question is, what will we get with this coin and why everyone is talking about some magical technology which allows for fast and cheap transactions without the need for banks or other financial institutions?
Libra will use blockchain technology, similar to the one used to create cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Currently, to send money through the second most popular cryptocurrency - ETH, despite how far your recipient is and no matter from what country you are sending the money, you will pay, on average, only $0.15 for the transaction. Moreover, the funds will be delivered within 15 minutes. This is all thanks to the blockchain technology, and this can give a glimpse into the potential of Libra costs and transfer speed.
It seems that the main problem people have with cryptocurrencies is the lack of stability of prices of particular coins. As one day, your BTC can be worth $10,000, just to wake up the next morning with a market price of only $6,000 per coin.
There are already a few cases of “stable” cryptocurrencies, which are often linked to some kind of a real asset like USD or precious metals. In Libra’s whitepapers, we can read that it is “designed to be a stable digital cryptocurrency that will be fully backed by a reserve of real assets — the Libra Reserve — and supported by a competitive network of exchanges buying and selling Libra.”
Therefore, there won’t be that many fluctuations in the value of the coin, and you will be able to hold it and spend it in your everyday transactions easily.
It is a unique cryptographic and encryption system, which allows to exchange of information transparently, securely, and almost instantly between people within a peer-to-peer network.
The sole idea behind blockchain is to empower the users and let them be governors of their own money. This means there is no central bank or any other kind of "admin" who has control over the transactions and user accounts.
In their official statement, one can read that:
“The goal of the Libra Blockchain is to serve as a solid foundation for financial services, including a new global currency, which could meet the daily financial needs of billions of people.”
Libra will start operating on a limited and regulated network called “permissioned blockchain”, which means the transactions will be verified and accepted by the company unlike other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum, which are entirely in the hands of users and so-called “miners”, who verify and process the transactions by using their computing power.
However, Libra is planning to transition to the regular blockchain with a “proof of stake” system within the next 5 years. The team most likely wants to check how the payment system works in real life, guide it’s development, and then (with possible future wider recognition and regulation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology) evolve into a fully independent and transparent project. This means that everyone who owns the currency will act as a governor of the whole system. There may also be some rewards for holding your coins.
While at this point we can’t say much about the reliability of the system and managing decisions of the association, we can surely comment about the increased level of security, which comes with the usage of blockchain technology.
All of the transactions and changes within the platform are available for the public information. This means there won’t be any cases of lost funds, company taking your money, or someone lying about the transaction details. Everything can be easily verified on the public blockchain.
Moreover, your account and the transaction are protected by a powerful encryption, which without going much into the details, would take millions of years to break with modern computing powers and technology.
At this stage, we don’t see the working system yet, so we are only operating on the speculations and recently published official documentation of Libra blockchain and its coin. Basing the knowledge of how other cryptocurrencies work and what features do they offer, we can easily say that this Facebook's idea is excellent not only for the company itself, but potentially also for many people around the world. We might soon get access to cheap and fast online payments. That way, even less developed regions of the world, with access to the internet, will be able to manage their money easily and securely.
Cryptocurrencies face their own problems and often struggle to survive on the highly volatile market. However, as Libra is planning to be a stable coin, it won’t be affected that much by the market movements and can easily be used for everyday payments.
On the other hand, the project itself isn’t in any matter revolutionary for most of the people, as there are already other stable cryptocurrencies. Even volatile ones already provide instant and almost free transactions.
Therefore, the main "big thing" about this project is that it is supported by big corporations and many leading financial companies. It may contribute to a new wave of cryptocurrency mania, which has been seen in the last years. Bitcoin price has been increasing rapidly, breaking new records, just to crash and start its race once again from the bottom.
The time will tell how successful Libra coin can become, as it needs to face the competition of projects like Tether, TrueUSD, or DAI, which already offer stable digital currencies. However, as Facebook is one of the biggest social networks in the world, it can easily reach billions of customers instantly by connecting it into their social platform.
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