Facebook is finally ready to talk about its blockchain plans. The largest payment systems, venture funds, non-profit organizations, and technology companies are taking part in creating the project.
Libra coin (LBR) is a token developed on the Libra blockchain. It's fully secured by a portfolio of assets with low volatility in monetary terms.
Libra will be launched in 2020. Calibra, a Facebook-based subsidiary, will provide financial services. Users will pay with a cryptocurrency through a special wallet. Originally, it will be available inside Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and then — as an independent app for Android and iOS.
Mark Zuckerberg's company conceived Libra to be as a form of electronic money, which is provided with reserves.
Libra may seem a custodial, fully regulated, with KYC and other everyday amenities. However, it gives the industry a chance to finally reach the masses.
Transfers to Libra won't be subject to significant commissions. They will be "invisible" for users. Libra is a “stable, low-volatile” coin, and its value is NOT tied to one fiat currency. Initially, Libra will be supported by a portfolio of assets in four federal currencies: USD, GBP, EUR, and JPY.
Among partners and early investors are Mastercard, Uber, Vodafone and other companies. Each member has one vote. Together they will guide the project development. Before the cryptocurrency official launching, the social network plans to extend the Libra Association to 100 participants although it sets strict requirements for beginners.
The Libra Association will operate a portfolio of assets to which the cryptocurrency cost is tied. Initially, the base for the token is a package of stable fiat currencies, government bonds, and bank deposits. If one of the positions sags in price, the association will be able to adjust the reserves.
Every time someone cashes Libra into fiat money, his tokens will be destroyed. Thus, a currency will always be tied to real money — each token is associated with its share of assets in reserve.
All transactions are registered in a highly scalable blockchain capable of withstanding a load of thousands of operations/second. Each member of the Libra Association will receive one verification node. Every transaction will require validation of 2/3 of all nodes in the system.
The blockchain is based on Rust and is open to developers. They will be able to create compatible applications using the Move language. The Libra Association also cooperates with the HackerOne exchange to launch a program for white hackers in order to find vulnerabilities.
The company stated that the ultimate goal of Libra is the creation of a global, decentralized payment form that is as stable as a dollar and can be used to buy anything. Moreover, later Calibra wallet will provide other financial products, including the ability to get a loan.
Libra will help the company to completely rebuild its own infrastructure and unite all its products into one platform. The total audience of the potential token is 2.7 billion people.
Facebook is developing its own payment system to integrate it into applications of partners, stores and financial organizations, as well as on websites, just like a Facebook profile is currently used for authorization on various platforms.
The Libra Blockchain will be accessible to everyone: users, developers, businesses. It will help them to develop a business, add value to existing projects.
According to TechCrunch journalists, overall access to the social network platform and low barriers is exactly what opened Cambridge Analytica doors and allowed it to get personal data of 87 million users and use them for political advertising. However, in this case, it's no longer a matter of birthdays or interests. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in Libra currency that can be stolen. Kevin Weil, vice president of product at Calibra, noted that developers' verification won't be very difficult on the platform.
Libra’s fully open, untested platform for developers, may become a ticking bomb. There is also the possibility of centralized management and full control of Libra by its members.
The social network expects to use Calibra for cash transactions in all its projects, for instance, buying on Instagram.
Facebook expects that users won't pay a commission for the use of Libra, and there will be a very small commission for organizations that accept payments.
The creators of Calibra expect Libra to be bought through the wallet application via bank accounts or through physical points that partners can launch for cash. To use it one will need to go through the identification procedure.
The system will have the second type of token (Libra Investment Token (LIT)) responsible for management. The value of this token is related to the cost of participation in this management or possibly to any income or remuneration paid to the network maintainers.
Libra will manage a closed group of organizations that is different from decentralized Bitcoin. In this situation, the blockchain code will be in the public domain and the third-party companies will be able to create apps for it.
Each member of the Libra Association (based in Geneva), except non-profit organizations, will contribute at least $10 million to the project. The consortium plans to recruit about 100 participants.
Calibra is now managed by David Marcus, the ex-president of PayPal and vice-president of Facebook Messenger.
The basis of Facebook's cryptocurrency is the Libra open-sourced blockchain. It will be available for integration to many users and companies (the JPMorgan Chase cryptocurrency, on the contrary, isn't public). Initially, the blockchain will be closed: to connect the new validating nodes to the network one will need the approval of the rest of the platform. In the future, it's planned to move the project to an open blockchain. It will become one of the main tasks of the platform. Libra blockchain will be written in a specially developed new programming language Move. The Libra Consensus Protocol will be called LibraBFT. It's resistant to the Byzantine error, which means Libra’s blockchain infrastructure will function normally, even if some nodes fall into the hands of intruders or work incorrectly.
Smart contracts will be written in the Move language, developed specifically for the Libra blockchain. According to the white paper, Move is “bytecode executable language used to implement user transactions and smart contracts.” At the time Libra is launched, only smart contracts previously approved by Libra Association will be used. This may be a limitation, considering that many organizations plan to use the network.
Calibra is a Libra wallet. It’ll be available both as a standalone mobile app (which means one doesn’t need a Facebook account) and inside Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp (and possibly Instagram). This will allow users to receive/send money (Libra) to other people, replenish their account (conversion of their local currency into Libra).
Later, Calibra will also allow “to pay for daily transactions, such as the purchase of coffee or food, to pay for public transport”.
Once Calibra is available, one can create an account. This will require a KYC.
The Facebook project will have an important impact on the financial industry in the world economy in the long term. Libra is the first attempt to create a global currency that will be used daily by billions of people and companies around the world.
However, the level of its progress will greatly depend on how Libra can satisfy regulators and financial institutions to cooperate with the consortium in creating a flexible structure that meets the need for decentralized management while respecting existing domestic and international standards.