Facebook is reportedly making a cryptocurrency for users of the messaging service WhatsApp, Bloomberg reports on Dec. 20. The token will purportedly be used for money transfers made within the app, and will focus on the remittances market in India.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg states that Facebook is developing a stablecoin. The sources further stated that the coin will not be released anytime soon, as Facebook is still working on a strategy for custody assets i.e. the asset to which the stablecoin will be tied.
The Indian remittances market is significant. According to data from the World Bank, the country received nearly $69 billion dollars in foreign remittances in 2017, or 2.8 percent of the country’s GDP.
WhatsApp enjoys widespread popularity in India, with over 200 million users in the country. The number of users in rural India doubled last year as data and internet costs in the region declined.
Facebook’s stance on cryptocurrency has changed significantly over the last year. In January 2018, the social media network introduced a crypto ad ban, which it said was designed to prevent “ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”
In May, David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s messaging app Messenger, announced the formation of a blockchain exploratory team at Facebook. At the time, Marcus was also a board member at San Francisco-based crypto exchange and wallet service Coinbase.
Marcus then wrote “I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.” Facebook repealed its blanket ban on crypto ads in late June, while upholding its ban on the promotion of initial coin offerings (ICOs).
In August, Marcus stepped down from Coinbase’s board in order to avoid a perceived conflict of interest. He said “Because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain, I’ve decided it was appropriate for me to resign…”