Report: Privacy Concerns Derail Facebook’s Negotiations with Blockchain Firms

Despite reports that Facebook may be officially revealing its GlobalCoin project soon, the project’s software is reportedly still not at a stage where it can actually be used.

According to recent reports, the delays to the social media giant’s crypto initiative, dubbed Project Libra, are due to blockchain industry incumbents hesitant to work on a project that doesn’t have the hallmarks of a true cryptocurrency.

One source estimated that early 2020 is a more realistic time frame for Facebook to commence testing on Project Libra.

Privacy issues

The report mentioned that Facebook plans to tie users’ financial information to their personal Facebook profiles. The company also reportedly plans to integrate with external payment processors such as Mastercard.

Sources likened GlobalCoin to AliPay, which lets users pay for purchases across several social platforms but has also been tied to surveillance by the Chinese government.

These aspects of the project, which give users only limited control over their digital identities, have apparently made negotiating with possible partners from the blockchain industry harder than usual.

Startups Tendermint and Stellar were among those who entered into fruitless talks with Facebook. The company also reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike’s startup, MobileCoin.

Once talks with the companies mentioned above fell through, Facebook instead acquired blockchain startup Chainspace. Its proprietary consensus algorithm reportedly played a major factor in the acquisition.

Anti-competitive moat

Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant, expressed concerns about how a GlobalCoin consortium could create a system that is able to exclude individual consumers from participating in commerce without having to be accountable.

There have also been reports of a $10 million minimum charge that interested GlobalCoin node operators will have to pay.

They are creating an anti-competitive moat,” Zehavi said. “It creates a silo of data rails without any guarantees about data sharing among the different participants, and the computation being done to access the services.

Meaning some computation being done could kick you out of Uber, Facebook, and Shopify, if you become a risk-management issue.

Global asset

For its part, Facebook has been recruiting allies aggressively, especially in the global market.

The majority of Facebook users live outside the U.S., so partnerships with global and non-U.S. brands will go a long way towards branding GlobalCoin as a global asset rather than an American one.

You’re creating a buffer zone of incumbents that can afford to participate,” Zehavi said. “Instead of creating a version of Stripe with data verification with privacy for developers to offer new applications and services.

Facebook has declined to comment on how it plans to handle the usage and sharing of user data. The company has also remained mum on their custodial approach for GlobalCoin.