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Crypto Dips, Will EU Users Pay for Facebook and Instagram?

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After touching a multi-month high around $28,500 Monday morning, Bitcoin futures slipped all the way back to $27,100 before righting the ship. The cryptocurrency traded at around $27,600 Tuesday morning. Rising bond yields get some of the blame. A guaranteed return of 4.7% on a 10-year U.S. Treasury note is stiff competition for a risky play like Bitcoin.

A barely lukewarm launch of seven Ether futures ETFs did not help. Ether, the second-most popular cryptocurrency, began trading on Monday. Here is the list, along with the first day’s performance and Tuesday’s premarket showing:

  • BitWise Ethereum Strategy ETF (AETH): -3.22%; -1.86%
  • Bitwise Bitcoin and Ether Equal Weight Strategy ETF (BTOP): -2.83%; -0.43%
  • ProShares Ether Strategy ETF (EETH): -2.98%; -0.53%
  • ProShares Bitcoin & Ether Equal Weight Strategy ETF (BETE: -2.58%; +4.59%
  • Bitcoin & Ether Market Cap Weight Strategy ETF (BETH): -2.39%; +1.44%
  • VanEck Ethereum Strategy ETF (EFUT): -7.58%; -0.24%

Trading volume for the funds varied between around 1,500 and 24,000. Not a very auspicious start.

Bitcoin investors have been pinning their hopes on SEC approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF, but the poor response to the Ether ETFs’ launch may indicate that the crypto market is weaker than many people believe. The beginning of Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial on Tuesday will not help lure new money into crypto either.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ: META) has proposed charging a monthly fee to European users of Instagram and Facebook as a workaround to the EU’s rules limiting personalized, targeted advertising. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Meta has proposed charging €10 ($10.50) for each social media site and an additional €6 to add the other one for an ad-free version of the app. The monthly fee for a mobile device would be about €13 to factor in the commissions charged by Apple and Google’s app stores for in-app payments.

Is Meta using this offer to drive more revenue? How much revenue does the company make every month from advertising that is served to each user? Meta had 3.003 billion Facebook users in the second quarter and generated revenue of nearly $32 billion in revenue. That is just under $10 a quarter per user, not $10 a month.

Instagram’s 2.4 billion users generated just over $14 billion in revenue in the second quarter. Again, the per-user total is less than $10 per month.

Meta is sure to get some pushback from EU regulators on the steep price. The regulators are sure to argue that the ad-free service is too pricey for most people. Should personal privacy be based on a person’s ability to pay?

Meta is going to have a hard time pushing this through — and that may be the point. Sorting those who can pay for the stuff advertised on Facebook or Instagram from those who cannot or will not pay, does not matter much if everyone gets ads. But if only those who can afford to pay for the ad-free experience choose to pay the monthly subscription rates, the pool of app users suddenly gets poorer, and ad rates will be forced down. Subscribers have to make up the lost revenue. Is Facebook or Instagram worth around $125 a year? Really?

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