Following a series of privacy and misinformation scandals and increasing regulatory probes, Facebook is keen to improve its image as a force for good.

Facebook will leverage its unparalleled global network of 2.4 billion users to deploy a new electronic currency, while pushing a narrative that it’s bringing a social good to untold millions lacking access to the global banking system.

Its Libra currency, in partnership with tech, banking and payment giants including Visa, Uber Technologies and PayPal Holdings, is expected to be available next year and immediately brings cryptocurrency to the mainstream.

  • Strung by criticism for weak oversight of content, fake news and political bias in its news postings, Facebook is waving the mantle of social good as it unveils Libra. “For many people around the world, even basic financial services are still out of reach: almost half of the adults in the world don’t have an active bank account and those numbers are worse in developing countries and even worse for women.”
  • Facebook says Libra, available on its Messenger and its WhatsApp messaging platform as well as standalone, takes aim at issues including banking system exclusion and migrants being screwed by exorbitant remittance fees
  • Facebook also hits back in its press materials at questions about its commitment to users’ privacy: “We’ll also take steps to protect your privacy. Aside from limited cases, Calibra (the subsidiary where Libra will be housed) will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without customer consent.”
  • Karma Takeaway: While many are keen that Facebook’s scale and global footprint will be a watershed moment for global cryptocurrency adoption, there are still a lot of questions about the openness of the new platform, how it will be regulated and whether it will benefit the unbanked as much as Facebook’s bottom line.