Facebook Inc. (FB - Get Report) extended gains for a fourth consecutive session Tuesday, taking their one-week gain past 10.8%, as investors react to details of its 'Libra' cryptocurrency plans revealed by its backers in a published white paper.
The Libra Association, a group of 28 business partners working through a group that will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, will administer the global cryptocurrency, which will be used on Facebook's platform and is expected to be launched next year. The coins will be held by users in digital wallet called Calibra, which will be connected to Facebook's two messaging platforms -- WhatsApp and Messenger -- and will be backed by a basket of global fiat currencies and "offer better, cheaper, and open financial services".
"This approach is similar to how other currencies were introduced in the past: to help instill trust in a new currency and gain widespread adoption during its infancy, it was guaranteed that a country's notes could be traded in for real assets, such as gold," the companies backing Libra said in their so-called white paper. "Instead of backing Libra with gold, though, it will be backed by a collection of low-volatility assets, such as bank deposits and short-term government securities in currencies from stable and reputable central banks."
Facebook shares were marked 1.4% higher Tuesday following news of the Libra launch at $191.14 each, the highest since May 6 and a move that takes the stock's one-week gain to nearly 11%.
"This is seismic moment for global finance. It is the first time that we have seen a tech giant and one of the FAANGS make a significant move into finance using crypto by launching a decentralised, permission-less blockchain, which will be available to billions of people," said Yoni Assia Co-Founder and CEO of eToro. "We believe that this is just the beginning. We expect other tech giants to follow suit helping to realise the potential for blockchain to disrupt traditional financial services. eToro will continue to play a key role in this revolution as we work to open up money to everyone around the world."
Speculation of Libra's launch, which will give Facebook's 2.4 billion monthly active users the ability to convert their local currency into a Facebook-useable digital coin that could be used for payments, commerce or gaming, has supported Facebook shares over the past week, with RBC analysts Mark Mahaney and Zachary Schwartzman predicting an "existential risk" that may arise from "a rapid, global consumer adoption of crypto tokens for payments and commerce."
Bitcoin prices, meanwhile, were marked 0.6% higher on the Tuesday session at $9,216.00 each and have surged more than 150% over the past six months as investors react to a series of moves to allows mainstream uses of digital currencies and exchange-traded derivatives contracts see increasing volumes.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also stressed the company's near-term focus towards e-commerce offerings, promising investors that the group will build "more tools for people to buy things directly through the platform."
"Over the long-term, if Payments becomes a really important part of what we do, we can - we'll have some options and choices about how we choose to - how to have the revenue flow to us in the future," Zuckerberg told investors following the company's second quarter earnings in April.