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Concerns Over Facebook Data Use Derailed at Least 3 Crypto Partnerships

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Facebook’s GlobalCoin project, also known as Project Libra, may face significant hurdles as the social media giant works toward a prospective launch.

Despite reports that Facebook is gearing up to reveal its new cryptocurrency as early as next week, a source with knowledge of Facebook’s operations said the project’s software has a long way to go until it can be used. Sources attribute the delay to blockchain industry incumbents being reluctant to work on a project that doesn’t appear to have the hallmarks of a true cryptocurrency.

One source estimated that early 2020 would be a more realistic timeframe for testing, so any imminent announcements would merely be forward-looking plans.

Based on conversations with seven knowledgeable sources, CoinDesk confirmed Facebook’s plan is to connect users’ financial information to their personal Facebook profiles. Such data would likley be under Facebook’s control, hosted in company databases. There are even talks about integrating with external payment processors like Mastercard, which the Wall Street Journal reported has signed on to help finance the GlobalCoin project. In a call with CoinDesk, Facebook declined to comment.

Sources compared GlobalCoin to Alipay, which allows digital payments across social platforms yet is also associated with Chinese government surveillance, and cited political lobbying as a cornerstone of Facebook’s broader effort.

This has created a rift between various partners from the blockchain industry, which were reluctant to work on a project that offered users little control over their digital identities. Sources say Facebook entered fruitless talks with startups Tendermint and Stellar, then even expressed an interest in acquiring MobileCoin, the startup advised by Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike.

The above-mentioned teams declined to comment. In their absence, Facebook acquired the blockchain startup Chainspace, with a keen eye on its proprietary consensus algorithm.

Blockchain consultant Maya Zehavi told CoinDesk she is concerned the GlobalCoin consortium with Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Facebook could create a system with limited accountability yet ample power to exclude individual users from commerce. Plus, there’s reportedly a $10 million minimum charge for prospective GlobalCoin node operators.

“They are creating an anti-competitive moat,” Zehavi said, adding:

“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.”

Strategic goals

Given this conflict between the cypherpunk ethos and Facebook’s public plans, the social media giant is allegedly using aggressive recruiting.

Facebook allegedly hired a team with several dozen cryptocurrency experts with annual compensation packages worth several million dollars each, one source said. It should be noted, however, this may be seen as a competitive rate for rare skill sets in Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, Facebook is aggressively pursuing partnerships with global brands such as Uber, that may someday accept GlobalCoin. Since the majority of Facebook’s 2.38 billion monthly active users live outside the United States, such partnerships would be crucial for branding this cryptocurrency as a global asset rather than an American fintech initiative.

One consultant said that Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions have put the company in a very different position than it was a decade ago. Plus, the public views bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as more secure and private than traditional payment options, another source said explaining why Facebook may be marketing this revamp as a blockchain project.

Facebook declined to comment on how user data would be used or shared. It also declined to comment on how GlobalCoin accounts would be custodied.

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

Facebook image via Shutterstock

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Fidelity-Backed Crypto Analytics Firm to Integrate Twitter-Based Crypto Sentiment Feed

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Crypto analytics firm Coin Metrics partnered with Social Market Analytics (SMA) to collaborate on a feed of real-time sentiment towards cryptocurrency based on social media data, according to a press release on June 17.

The new partnership intends to collect and analyze data posted by crypto community on social media in order to provide a new tool to help crypto traders to track social media sentiment data to build their portfolio strategies.

The new product will initially target sentiment data solely on social media giant Twitter, Coin Metrics CEO Tim Rice confirmed to Cointelegraph, adding that the firms are currently not considering integration of the service into Facebook.

Specifically,Coin Metrics will incorporate the product into market data platform, called the SMA cryptocurrency Sentiment Feed, providing calculated metrics of data on Twitter, according to a report by crypto media outlet The Block. In the report, Rice said that the calculation algorithms would include relevant tweets and calculate “19 different aggregate sentiment metrics down to snapshots of one minute.”

Social Market Analytics is providing social media-powered predictive data analytics to traditional capital markets participants in various markets, including stocks, forex, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), futures, among others. Since its establishment in 2012, SMA has been a Twitter Finance partner, the firm’s CEO Joe Gits stated in an email to Cointelegraph.

Meanwhile, Coin Metrics is backed by major American investment management company Fidelity in February 2019, which participated in a $1.9 million funding round in February 2019.

Earlier today, social media giant Facebook released the white paper for its long-anticipated cryptocurrency and blockchain-powered financial project known as Libra stablecoin.





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Bitcoin Falls Near $9,000 as US Stock Market Sees Gains

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Monday, June 17 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting moderate losses on the day by press time, as bitcoin (BTC) falls Near $9,000 mark again.

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Bitcoin is currently down about 3% on the day, trading around $9,045 at press time, according to Coin360. Looking at its weekly chart, the coin is up around 11%.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, bitcoin surpassed one million daily active addresses on June 14, according to blockchain statistics website CoinMetrics.

Ether (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which currently stands at $28.2 billion. The second-largest altcoin, Ripple’s XRP, has a market cap of $18.1 billion at press time.

Coin360 data shows that ETH has seen its value decrease by about 2.27% over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $265. On the week, the coin has also gained almost 6.8% of value.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

XRP is down by just over 0.43% over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at around $0.430. On the week, the coin is up about 6.7%.

XRP 7-day price chart

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Yesterday news broke that major money transmission network MoneyGram has entered into a strategic partnership with blockchain-based payments firm Ripple.

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the only ones reporting gains are binance coin (BNB), which is over 1% up, and DASH, which is up over 2%.

At press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $282.8 billion, over 11.6% higher than the value it reported a week ago.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, Social media giant Facebook has released the white paper for its long-awaited cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial infrastructure project.

In traditional markets, the United States stock market is seeing gains so far today, with the S&P 500 up 1.17% and the Nasdaq up 1.73% at press time. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), on the other hand, has lost 0.46% on the day at press time.

Major oil futures and indexes are mixed movements today, with WTI Crude up 3.99%, Brent Crude up 2.43% and Mars US down 0.83% at press time. The OPEC Basket is up 0.57% and the Canadian Crude Index has seen its value increase by 5.57% in the 24 hours by press time, according to OilPrice.





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Facebook Has Yet to Answer US Lawmakers’ Questions About Libra Crypto

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Facebook is still working on its responses to a plethora of consumer protection questions about the Libra cryptocurrency asked by a group of U.S. senators last month.

The Senate Banking Committee wrote an open letter to Facebook at the beginning of May, asking the social media giant a number of questions about Libra, after word of the project leaked out in the press. The questions primarily centered around user privacy and data protection, though a few concerned the cryptocurrency network itself.

After months of speculation and rumors, the company formally unveiled its vision for Libra on Tuesday – but it has not yet submitted a response to the letter.

“We received the letter and are addressing the senators’ questions,” a Facebook spokesperson told CoinDesk Tuesday morning.

Early clues

To be sure, the documentation Facebook published offers a hint of what the answers to some of the committee’s questions might be.

Take, for example, the senators’ first two questions:

  1. How would this new cryptocurrency-based payment system work, and what outreach has there been to financial regulators to ensure it meets all legal and regulatory requirements?
  2. What privacy and consumer protections would users have under the new payment system?

Facebook’s new Libra white paper and supporting documentation outline the mechanism for the basket of fiat currencies and government securities that back the Libra token, as well as the Libra investment token that gives its governance council the ability to monitor and modify the network and its protocols.

Moreover, Facebook said in other documentation that it, or at least its new Calibra subsidiary, would secure money transmitter licenses in various U.S. states that treat cryptocurrencies as money. Calibra has also registered as a money services business (MSB) with the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. (Though it is a legal requirement for businesses conducting financial transactions, registering as an MSB does not indicate any sort of regulatory approval.)

Calibra says it will also abide by European Union and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines, as well as the laws of each jurisdiction it provides services in. Facebook has also reportedly held talks with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) about Libra.

The Senators also asked if Facebook shares or sells any consumer information (or information derived from such data) with any unaffiliated third parties. Company literature says that neither Facebook nor Calibra will do so without consent from the customer.

Stay tuned

Still, the senators may want more detailed answers to these questions and others, specifically:

  1. What consumer financial information does Facebook have that it received from a financial company?
  2. To the extent that Facebook has received such information, what does the company do with it and how does it safeguard the data?
  3. Does Facebook have any information bearing on an individual’s (or group of individuals’) creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics or mode of living that is used (either by Facebook or an unaffiliated third party) to establish eligibility for, or marketing of a product or service related to, credit, insurance, employment or housing?
  4. How does Facebook ensure that such information is not used in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The senators’ letter did not give a deadline for Facebook to respond, and it is unclear when the answers will be sent.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg image via Shutterstock

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