While waiting for the metaverse to turn into the treasure promised by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant is trying to diversify away from relying primarily on advertising revenue.
The group is currently working on different products. But one in particular will likely get some attention as a potential embarrassment for Zuckerberg. It’s a safe bet that this product will make the tech tycoon a laughingstock on social media.
According to the Financial Times, Facebook, renamed Meta Platforms last October, plans to launch a virtual currency for the metaverse.
The token is referred to within the company as “Zuck Buck.”
The Zuck Buck is no doubt called that as a way of making it known that the project has been pushed or is supported by the CEO, who has transferred his communication obligations to Nick Clegg in order to devote himself to the company’s strategy.
A Zuck Buck will not strictly speaking be a virtual currency in the proper sense of the term, like bitcoin or ethereum. It would be more a system of in-app tokens controlled by Meta, according to the FT.
Facebook would not be the first company to use this system; after all, video games popularized this type of token. An in-app token can sometimes be a tradable asset or utility that resides on a platform and allows the holder to use it for economic purposes.
In-app Tokens can have multiple properties and functionalities. In games like CryptoKitties and Axie Infinity, they are non-fungible. They represent a digital object with unique characteristics like a serial number, a name, characteristics of a character or game objects, etc. Generally, in-app tokens are called cryptocollectible in video games.
We don’t know what the Zuck Buck will eventually be.
Facebook is also considering rewards for users who contribute on the platforms, for instance on Facebook groups, in the form of “social tokens” or “reputation tokens”.
Similarly, influencers on Instagram could be given “creator coins.”
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“We have no updates to share today,” a Meta spokesperson said to TheStreet in an email statement. The spokesperson declined to say if the company is working on ‘Zuck Buck.’ “We continuously consider new product innovations for people, businesses, and creators.”
The spokesperson did suggest that having an in-app token for a company that is betting big in the metaverse is not completely ridiculous.
“As a company, we are focused on building for the metaverse and that includes what payments and financial services might look like,” the spokesperson said.
Loans And NFTs
Besides a virtual currency, Meta Financials is also on board with other types of financial products, the Financial Times reports. The Instagram and WhatsApp owner plans to launch small business loans.
One of the most advanced projects is the integration of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into Instagram. Zuckerberg himself indicated last month that creators should be able to ‘mint’ (create) NFTs in the “near term.” NFTs are a way of owning a piece of digital content, be that a photo or a gif.
These projects come at a time when Meta faces competition from TikTok. The group is also trying to recover from the failure of its Libra/Diem cryptocurrency project, which led to an exodus of talent.
Facebook, now called Meta, attempted to enter the blockchain payments space in 2019 with its Libra initiative, backed by big players such as credit card issuers. But the plan quickly ran into regulatory headwinds and many significant issues.
The project was meant to accelerate the adoption of alternative currency and payment systems, lifting the prospects of other cryptocurrencies in the process. But the company’s plans drew instant scrutiny from regulators including the Federal Reserve, due to various policy concerns.
“Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell had said in July 2019.
Facebook had pitched the project for people who lack access to financial services and could use the company’s instant messaging apps WhatsApp and Messenger to send money.
It rebranded the Libra association, which included Spotify (SPOT) – Get Spotify Technology SA Report, Uber (UBER) – Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report and Lyft (LYFT) – Get Lyft, Inc. Class A Report, as Diem in 2020.