What happened: Facebook announced early this week that it is set to launch its own cryptocurrency, Libra, in 2020. The company said users will be able to use it on its own app, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Although the social media platform is outlawed in China, the announcement still generated much discussion online. “The technology is already mature, it’s really not difficult,” Tencent CEO Pony Ma said in a comment on WeChat. “It depends more on whether the regulations allow it,” he added.
Why it’s important: Some believe that Libra is Facebook’s attempt to follow Tencent’s successful push into mobile wallets as a social media company, even though the two payment systems are based on different technologies. The Chinese internet giant created its digital QQ coin back in 2002 and it currently operates WeChat Pay, one of the largest mobile wallets in China. Compared with China, many advanced economies have been slow to embrace the cashless trend. Lawmakers in the US and Europe have already expressed concerns about Facebook’s cryptocurrency.