Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) will unveil its new cryptocurrency later this month, according to The Information. The digital token is reportedly designed to serve as a global currency -- one that Facebook hopes will facilitate peer-to-peer payments among its more than 2 billion users.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first expressed his interest in cryptocurrency and its potential uses in his 2018 mission statement, in which he wrote:
Soon thereafter, Zuckerberg appointed former PayPal executive David Marcus to head up Facebook's blockchain initiatives. Since then, the company has been bolstering its ranks with a slew of cryptocurrency-focused hirings.
Zuckerberg again hinted at Facebook's crypto ambitions during the company's developer conference in May. "When I think about all the different ways that people interact privately, I think payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier," Zuckerberg said.
In recent weeks, several news outlets have reported that Facebook is planning to launch its own payments-focused cryptocurrency. People will be able to use the currency to transfer funds and make purchases on Facebook messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Messenger.
The news has caused quite a stir in the crypto world -- and on Wall Street. Anthony Pompliano, founder and partner at blockchain-focused investment firm Morgan Creek Digital, believes Facebook's cryptocurrency could quickly become the "most used product in crypto."
Moreover, Barclays analyst Ross Sandler predicts that Facebook's new cryptocurrency could generate as much as $19 billion in additional revenue for the company by 2021. There's a lot that will need to go well for that to happen, as Sandler's bull-case model includes assumptions such as Facebook building new content and app ecosystems that allow it to generate revenue-per-user figures similar to Alphabet's Google Play store.
Still, any progress that Facebook makes toward diversifying its revenue streams away from its core advertising business -- which is under attack from privacy advocates -- could go a long way toward lessening its stock's risk profile in the eyes of investors. And if Facebook's new cryptocurrency can help it generate anywhere in the vicinity of Sandler's best-case revenue estimates, it could provide a powerful new catalyst for share-price gains in the year ahead.
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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Joe Tenebruso has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Facebook, and PayPal Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.