Crypto

Facebook Libra - opportunity you didn't read about at launch

(Prologue - I am a public Facebook skeptic due to their numerous privacy and security shortcomings. See my #DataResponsibility blog. However I am encouraged by the steps Facebook’s Calibra Team outlined in the design of their first token offering)


The highly anticipated announcement (not launch) of "Facebook's Blockchain" focused on the many sides of its payment features. Serving the under-banked, removing payment friction for those with credit, tackling global crypto governance, domestic & international regulatory tangents, will all dominate Libra discussion for the foreseeable future. But those topics merely hint at its potential for both good & evil. This key paper of the Libra announcement indicates where the hidden majority of opportunity & risk actually lies.

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Facebook's Libra will provide the first global programmatic trust connection between 2.3 billion consumers and > 90M vendors / service providers, as well as governments. That’s a potential trust network at unprecedented scale. Notably, payment is merely part of a customer - provider lifecycle. Proposals & quotes, electronic tracking & delivery, product support, professional services, artifacts / certificates / licenses and digitized assets are but a few elements of the expanding digital value chain which fill out this lifecycle. Election advertising transparency and newsfeed content authenticity (in the age of Fake News and AI Deep Fakes) are some social good use-cases also enabled by Libra. But risks abound. 

TechCrunch's Josh Constine has already outlined some obvious risks here for Libra to mitigateTrust, integrity and transparency are now widely accepted baseline requirements for every digital transaction. Chains of Custody are the Security, Legal and Regulatory mechanisms by which to mitigate those risks and deliver on Libra's potential. 

Non-repudiation of goods & service delivery, tracking resource usage, attesting to the privacy & integrity of patient records, monitoring home & auto policy terms, facilitating travel logistics and interacting with government services (DMV, Taxes, ...) are basic examples of digital transactions which complement payments, yet need every bit as much of the security and privacy guarantees as the payments themselves.

I'm professionally excited by Facebook's Calibra Engineering team and their practical (i.e. evolving permissioning, centralization vs decentralization, etc...) design trade-offs published in the first Libra whitepaper. The team will no doubt iterate and improve many aspects of Libra based on community feedback, but they are already paving the way for a new global economy with boundless digital value exchange and related investment opportunity.