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Facebook's Venture Into Crypto Is a Smart Move

March 05, 2019 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:40 AM UTC

2.7 billion monthly users means lots of crypto wallets.

Transcript
[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to "Fortune Tech Debate," where we discuss the issues of the day in two minutes. Today we are talking about Facebook's new venture into cryptocurrency. Jeff, what do you think about it? Lisa Marie, this might surprise you. I'm a Facebook skeptic, but I think this is a great idea. Facebook is going to have a bunch of crypto credits on a blockchain that they could give to all their users. It'll add a new financial layer to their platform, a way to pay each other, all sorts of possibilities. Good idea, I think. I just don't know. I mean, you say yourself you're a Facebook skeptic. I know a lot of people are. It seems like no one trusts the platform these days. Are they really going to use it? I mean, before this, people didn't use Facebook Gifts or Facebook Credits. OK, you made a couple of points there. First, will people trust it? I don't trust it, but I use it anyways, because you have to. You're on it somewhere. They own Instagram, they own WhatsApp. You know, that's something-- you just can't get away from Facebook, and people haven't stopped using it yet. Your other point though, it's true. Facebook has tried this in the past-- Facebook Credits and Gifts. People don't want to go shopping on Facebook. I think this is different, because add the blockchain technology, it's a lot easier to use. A lot of possibilities-- perhaps overseas on Indian WhatsApp, you know, for people to pay each other. Or a really intriguing idea-- what if you could use it to compensate people for using their data? Some people have suggested Facebook should do this. Instead of them just selling you without permission, you'd have a choice. You could either pay to use Facebook or else they would pay you, give you some of these credits to be able to sell your data like they do. Yeah, that's a very interesting point. It just feels very, too little, too late. Had they maybe done this earlier, I think it would have been a really big success, but at this point, you know, Facebook hasn't just used people's data for advertisements, but it's gotten in the hands of people using it for political gain. I don't think people want anything to do with that. I don't think people want Facebook to have their data, period. Well, I think Facebook would say they're trying to clean this up, and they've made some strides, I think. But again, Facebook isn't just Facebook. It's Instagram, which is enormous. It's WhatsApp. And those platforms aren't going away anytime soon, and I think this could be truly useful for people. If you could just simply pay each other back and forth through WhatsApp, I think it's very clever. Very low cost to Facebook-- it's all on a blockchain, easy to track, reliable, trustworthy. Why not? Yeah, I see your points. I just don't really see the user case here. I mean, Facebook has enough problems of its own right now. [BUZZER] OK, well, if they roll it out, you can give the creds to me. OK, I will. Well, that's all the time we have. Come to Fortune.com for more "Tech Debate."