Meta has announced its plans to introduce virtual coins, tokens and lending services to its apps. The move comes as Facebook’s parent company pursues its finance ambitions, despite the collapse of a project to launch a cryptocurrency.
Led by Mark Zuckerberg, Meta is seeking alternative revenue streams and new features that can attract and retain users, as popularity falls for its main social networking products such as Facebook and Instagram — a trend that threatens its $118bn-a-year ad-based business model.
Facebook’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been exploring the creation of a virtual currency for the metaverse, which employees internally have dubbed “Zuck Bucks”, according to several people familiar with the efforts.
This is unlikely to be a cryptocurrency based on the blockchain, some of the people said. Instead, Meta is leaning towards introducing in-app tokens that would be centrally controlled by the company, similar to those used in gaming apps such as the robux currency in popular children’s game Roblox.
According to company memos and people close to the plans, Meta is also looking into the creation of “social tokens” or “reputation tokens”, which could be issued as rewards for meaningful contributions in Facebook groups, for example. Another effort is to make “creator coins” that might be associated with particular influencers on its photo-sharing app Instagram.
Meta has also been exploring more traditional financial services, with a focus on helping to provide small business loans at attractive rates, according to several people familiar with the initiative. While nothing is immediately planned, the company has previously held discussions with potential lending partners, one of the people said.
Most of the efforts are in the early stages of being discussed and could change or be dropped, although its plans to integrate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into its apps are more developed. Zuckerberg confirmed an earlier Financial Times report that Instagram would soon start to support NFTs.