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Libra – Facebook’s equivalent to Alipay and WeChat p2p payments capability

Alipay and WeChat have made headway by combining chat, talk and peer to peer payments all in one platform. Facebook in the same light intends to enter the p2p payments space by 2020 with it’s recent launch of a blockchain payments solution named Libra, this will support an asset backed digital currency called Libracoin. On it’s blockchain there’s already a live testnet available for macOS and Linux operating system with it’s own programming language - Move.

Libra’s technical paper does not give details on it’s total supply of Libracoins, this blockchain falls in the category of stablecoins and is different from the likes of Bitcoin Cash, Digibyte and other cryptocurrencies which are decentralized, have hard coded fixed supply amounts and are not pre-mined.

A couple of questions arise from these developments;

  1. By how much will Facebook lower transaction fees competitively for transfer of funds compared to already existing blockchain solutions like Bitcoin Cash, Digibyte or Dogecoin?
    Libra’s partnership with Mastercard, PayPal, PayU (Naspers’ fintech arm), Stripe and Visa might ensure that some users with Credit or debit cards are easily able to access Libracoins, but the underlying question will remain, how much is it going to cost to purchase Libracoins, this will also apply to mobile money platforms and this will ultimately decide the total cost of acquiring them. The fact that it is not as volatile as the mentioned cryptocurrencies will add more user confidence in acquiring and using them.
  2. How different will it’s peer to peer payments experience be compared to Telegram’s - Telegram Open Network (TON)?
    Both peer to peer payment solutions will serve the same purpose and like their messaging solutions be similar. One of the two however, might have a better user experience in terms of acquiring their respective stablecoins and the transfer speed.
  3. Since Facebook and Telegram have a large user base, will their use of peer to peer solutions in their already existing products render other blockchain solutions set out to provide peer to peer payment solutions less valuable?
    Adoption and use of Libracoin and Telegram’s stablecoin might also draw user attention to other cryptocurrencies which in due time will be easily purchased from trusted sources through apps developed on their respective blockchains. The downside to this is that interest in the other cryptocurrencies might only be for speculation purposes as the peer to peer payments functions will already be accessible through wallets in the messaging platforms.
  4. How will users using mobile money platforms be able to purchase or sell their Libracoins?
    The Libra blockchain is accessible to developers who are able to develop apps on it and although this might not augur well with some mobile money payments platforms that have already partnered with other cross border payment platforms, this might be an opportunity for other mobile money platforms to increase their revenue streams by providing innovative solutions that allow users access Libracoins easily.

Like Alipay and WeChat, Libra will revolutionize cross border commerce. The Move programming language will create opportunities for developers to create apps on Libra’s blockchain. Developers in Kenya can start learning how to work with this programming language and how it can be integrated with existing mobile money platforms, in a bid to come up with innovative products.

June 20, 2019