Facebook To Launch Cryptocurrency In A Bid To Create New Global Payment System

Facebook is set to launch a cryptocurrency next year -- backed by the likes of Mastercard, Visa and PayPal -- which will allow people to move money from their smartphone.

The currency is known as Libra. The social network says it has "no special role" in governing the cryptocurrency and will manage the reserve equally with a group of big companies.

So far, it has enlisted 28 firms, including Spotify and Uber, who each had to invest a minimum of $US10 million ($A15 million) to be a founding member.

It wants to attract 100 businesses in time for launch, which it is aiming for the first half of 2020.

Libra is supported by a reserve of the world's best assets and the world's most trusted central banks, who gave the cryptocurrency "general cautious support", according to David Marcus, who started exploring blockchain at Facebook a year ago.

"Libra holds the potential to provide billions of people around the world with access to a more inclusive, more open financial ecosystem," he explained.

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The social network is hoping its collaborative approach can ease volatility concerns of existing blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Facebook will operate its own digital wallet for people to spend Libra, known as the Calibra Wallet, which will be available in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and as a standalone app.

Users will be able to send money to each other initially, at low to no cost, the social network said.

Eventually, it intends to open the Calibra Wallet up to additional services, so that people can pay bills, buy goods by scanning a code or access public transport.