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Facebook plans 2020 launch of cryptocurrency

Facebook is preparing to launch its own cryptocurrency next year and to set up a digital payment system in about a dozen countries during the first quarter of 2020, reports the BBC.

The social media giant aims to start testing the planned new cryptocurrency, which has been dubbed GlobalCoin, by the end of this year.

The network’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, met Bank of England governor Mark Carney last month to discuss the opportunities and risks involved in launching a cryptocurrency and is expected to flesh out its plans in more detail later this summer. Facebook has also consulted officials at the US Treasury for their advice on operational and regulatory issues.

The group is also said to in talks with money transfer firms including Western Union for ways of enabling people without a bank account to send and receive money faster and more cheaply, which would be facilitated by its own digital currency.

Gestating plans

Earlier this month Facebook registered a new entity called “Libra Networks” in Geneva, which will “provide financial and technology services and develop related hardware and software.” The Swiss-based association will launch in the next few weeks,

The plans for Project Libra were first reported last December and will see Facebook collaborate with banks and brokers on methods for people to change dollars and other international currencies into its digital coins. The group is also believed to be in talks with online merchants, with the proposal that they accept the cryptocurrency in return for lower transaction fees.

Facebook has faced criticism over its handling of users’ personal data, and regulators are likely to scrutinise the proposed launch closely.

Earlier this month, the US Senate and Banking committee wrote an open letter to Mr Zuckerberg seeking further details on how the currency will work, what consumer protection will be offered and how data will be secured.

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