How Facebook Is Breaking Into the Crypto Trade

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Cryptocurrencies were all the rage in 2017. We saw numerous new coin offerings hoping to capitalize on the popularity of this phenomenon, but many of these fell through. Bitcoin seems to be the only cryptocurrency that has survived, although it has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year. While some of these offerings have failed, and bitcoin is suffering, a big name is looking to get into the crypto trade.

A report from Cheddar indicates that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is the newest and perhaps the biggest company to explore the creation of its own cryptocurrency. The social media giant started studying blockchain roughly a year ago, and now its vice president in charge of the Messenger app, David Marcus, will head up a new team to “explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”

Before joining Facebook Marcus was the president of PayPal. Also, he was an early bitcoin investor, and in December he joined the board of Coinbase, which runs one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges.

According to Cheddar:

Facebook’s work on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency will likely take years to materialize. People familiar with the matter said the social network doesn’t have plans to hold a so-called initial coin offering (ICO) by offering a limited number of virtual tokens for the public to buy at a set price.

Facebook will likely need to make acquisitions in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space to develop its own virtual currency, one of the people said. Blockchain technology could also be used to help Facebook verify the identity of accounts and encrypt data.

The social platform has experimented with virtual currency before. In 2009, the company released Facebook Credits, which could be used to purchase virtual goods in popular games like Farmville. But the feature never gained traction, and Facebook shut it down two years later.

Shares of Facebook closed Friday at $186.99, with a consensus analyst price target of $219.83 and a 52-week trading range of $144.42 to $195.32.