For the last year, Facebook has been signaling it wants in on the cryptocurrency phenomenon. At its F8 developers conference last month, cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants to make sending money as easy as sending a photo: digital, immediate, free and secure.
On Tuesday, the company formally unveiled its highly-anticipated digital currency project. It’s called Libra. Facebook (FB) also announced the creation of the Libra Association, an independent organization that will manage the currency, and Calibra, a unit of Facebook (FB) that will build applications related to the new digital currency.
Facebook has 2.4 billion users around the world, an audience that could help it spur a bigger mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency than others have yet to generate. At the same time, the announcement comes at a critical moment in Facebook’s history. The company is under regulatory and political scrutiny for its massive influence, as well as its mishandling of user data, even as it works to further extend its reach into users’ lives.