Let's face it, despite the peak in consumers' awareness Bitcoin received at the end of 2018, backed by an incredible spike of its price, cryptocurrencies remain pretty cryptic to the majority of people.
Most of those who tried their luck in buying Bitcoins at that time probably lost most of their investment, and their faith in cryptocurrencies with it. Indeed, Bitcoin's price - and that of most other cryptocurrencies - kept plunging to record low levels throughout 2018, and the market is currently looking quite sluggish.
Fair enough. They tried and they lost. It will take a while to alleviate those people's scepticism about cryptocurrency. Bitcoin took a hit in its race for mainstream adoption, and despite an increasing number of use cases for bitcoins in real life, it is just not getting the level of momentum it is expecting.
But Facebook's latest - leaked - project could change that deal, if it happens to be true. They are - supposedly - planning to launch a coin for Whatsapp that would enable users to exchange money without fees. In my opinion, if Facebook puts the right resources in the right place, that coin could be the first widely adopted one in history, because that project is different than other cryptocurrencies in many ways:
1) It would be a stablecoin. That means the value of that coin would be linked to the value of existing currencies (dollar, euro, etc.), and therefore would be stable. That's a huge advantage when we know how much the volatility of traditional cryptocurrencies is giving consumers the chills.
2) Most cryptocurrencies out there are backed by B2B companies operating in the blockchain / fintech space. They use their ecosystem, business and pricing models to increase adoption of their cryptocurrencies, but because they operate in the B2B space, their visibility, and potential interest for consumers is limited. Facebook and Whatsapp however, already benefit from a huge consumer awareness and attention span, and could easily integrate that coin in consumers' habits.
3) Where other companies backing cryptocurrencies have limited resources to promote their coins, Facebook has a huge financial power to do that. First, with a strong marketing strategy, and the budget that goes with it. Most consumers are currently sceptical of anything coin/cryptocurrency and their campaign will have to shift that perception. Second, they should look at creating applications for their digital currency outside of Whatsapp, and to a broader extent, the digital ecosystem. As a company, Facebook has the resources to create an environment where that coin would be as easy to use as our dollars. ATMs, shops, e-commerce... Imagine paying your dinner with your Facebook / Whatsapp coins, just by tapping your phone. And if you need to split the bill with your mate, they can send the money instantly through Whatsapp.
Awareness, applications and ease-of-use would be keys for the success of that coin. But Facebook won't succeed if they don't fix their current issue with consumers' trust first. Currently stuck in controversies with their use of our private information, it would be hard for Facebook to convince us to trust them with our money. On the other hand, they risk leaving that space to a competitor if they chose to wait.
According to reports from Bloomberg and later The New York Times, Facebook is building a digital payments system for WhatsApp, its end-to-end encrypted messaging app. It would let users send and receive cash without having to pay fees.