What is Libra?
Libra is a cryptocurrency that is intended to be sent instantly, and with almost no fees, anywhere in the world.
It is built on some of the same principles as Bitcoin. But the aim is for Libra, unlike Bitcoin, to have a stable value, backed up by a basket of international currencies, such as the dollar, euro and yen.
A team at Facebook created the Libra project, and the company has added the partners, including many other big technology companies, to help oversee a Swiss nonprofit that will be responsible for the final design of Libra and for putting the system in place.
How can I use it?
When the cryptocurrency launches, users can download Calibra, a digital wallet, that will allow them to send it to anyone with a smartphone. It will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp, and as a standalone app.
It is not clear which countries the coin will launch in first, though Facebook said “almost anybody” in the world with a smartphone will be able to download the app.
What can you buy with it?
Facebook will launch Calibra, the Libra digital wallet, to allow users to send money to and from each other.
Apart from transactions on the app itself, Facebook wants to facilitate the use of Libra at various vendors for day-to-day transactions.
Ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft are early investors in the project, suggesting that perhaps users will be able to pay for services on the apps using Libra, though neither company responded to a request for comment.
Is this safe?
There are a number of privacy concerns regarding a financial app run by Facebook. The company said it will implement technologies to prevent money laundering and fraud.
“We will be using all the same verification and anti-fraud processes that banks and credit cards use, and we’ll have automated systems that will proactively monitor activity to protect and prevent fraudulent behaviour,” Facebook said.
It also claims it will have “live support” to help users who lose access to accounts and, if a user loses money through fraud, Facebook has offered refunds.
Facebook’s Libra Blockchain will be built on open source code that allows the developer and research community to monitor it for design and security flaws, and the company will implement a “bug bounty” program to incentivise security experts to point out vulnerabilities in the platform.