THE EXCITEMENT among crypto-buffs is palpable. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, appears to be planning to launch a digital coin early next year. But they should not get their hopes up too high. If the firm does indeed launch what is being dubbed FB Coin, GlobalCoin or Libra, it will be a tame sort of cryptocurrency—more Bitcoin 0.5 than 2.0.
Facebook has declined to comment, but is clearly up to something. Last year it put a highly regarded senior executive, David Marcus, in charge of a new team exploring “ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology”, which underlies cryptocurrencies. In April Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, said at its annual shindig for developers that it “should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo”. It seems to be talking to potential partners, such as credit-card issuers and merchants, and financial regulators, such as Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England.