Following the shutdown of the Diem stablecoin initiative founded by Facebook, the Financial Times reports that Meta is exploring using payment tokens that don’t use blockchain, dubbed “Zuck Bucks”. That’s a nod to Robux, the digital currency used within the Roblox game. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously confirmed plans to launch non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Instagram, but it will also launch a pilot on Facebook in mid-May.
Facebook’s launch of the Libra (rebranded as Diem) stablecoin project in 2019 made central banks and regulators worldwide sit up and pay attention. In the absence of Diem, central bank digital currency (CBDC) research would not have progressed to the extent that it has.
The level of regulatory pushback that Diem received globally was unprecedented, so it wasn’t a massive shock when it was shut down at the end of January. It’s hardly surprising that Meta is forgoing blockchain for its own currency, for now.
Stephane Kasriel, who took over as the head of Meta Financial Technologies after David Marcus departed, was still upbeat about blockchain when Diem was shuttered at the end of January.
“We’re optimistic about the role that web3 tech, like blockchain and digital assets are going to play. There’s real opportunity to deliver greater access, cost savings and innovation for people, businesses, and creators around the world,” said Kasriel on Twitter.
Facebook Pay is to be merged with Novi, the digital asset wallet that was designed to support Diem that is currently piloting an alternative stablecoin (Paxos). The wallet will support payments, identity and digital asset management.
But Meta intends to borrow other blockchain concepts such as social tokens to reward engagement. That said, the Financial Times quoted insider sources who said that plans are still at an early stage and may change, so perhaps blockchain could be used after all.