Facebook is set to launch a global cryptocurrency called Libra, the company revealed on Tuesday.
The digital coin will come online in the first half of 2020 if regulators in Switzerland, where the new currency is to be based, give the go-ahead, CNN Money reports.
Facebook has created a management tool it has named Calibra, which will offer digital wallets to save, send and spend Libras. It will be connected to the billion-plus users of the Messenger and WhatsApp platforms as the network expands beyond social networking into the world of international finance.
The name was inspired by Roman weight measurements, the astrological sign for justice and the French word for freedom, said David Marcus, a former PayPal executive who is heading up the project.
“Freedom, justice and money, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here,” he said.
The 28 partner companies in the project include household names such as Mastercard, Visa, Spotify, PayPal, eBay, Uber and Vodafone, as well as venture capital firms.
It is not clear how regulators will react to Facebook making a push into financial services through the largely unregulated world of cryptocurrency.
In recent years, cryptocurrency investors have lost hundreds of millions of dollars through hacks, and the market has been plagued by accusations of money-laundering, illegal drug sales and terrorist financing.