Meta Platforms, the parent company of the world's biggest social media network, Facebook, is planning to develop its own cryptocurrencies and virtual tokens for its suite of products, the Financial Times reported.
The plan – which is being referred to internally as "Zuck Bucks", a reference to Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg – comes as the California-based company tries to leverage the metaverse and develop new alternative revenue streams in view of the waning popularity of its apps, the FT said, citing people familiar with the plans.
If implemented, Zuck Bucks could give Meta control over transactions in its family of services, which include Facebook, photo-sharing app Instagram, messaging platform WhatsApp and the Meta Quest virtual reality platform.
But Meta's planned virtual currencies, which are being handled by its financial unit Meta Financial Technologies, may not be based on blockchain – the technology that underpins Bitcoin – and are intended for the metaverse, the report said.
The planned in-app tokens would be centrally controlled by Meta, similar to the Robux currency used in the popular game Roblox, which can either be bought via the app or received as a reward or by selling in-game items.
Company memos and those with knowledge of the plans suggest that Meta is also considering making so-called “social tokens” or “reputation tokens”, which may be distributed as "rewards for meaningful contributions in Facebook groups", according to the FT. Another idea is to make “creator coins” associated with particular influencers on Instagram.
Most of the plans are in the early planning stages of planning and could yet be altered or dropped altogether. Plans to introduce non-fungible tokens are more developed.
Mr Zuckerberg previously confirmed that Meta is planning to introduce NFTs to Instagram, while a pilot programme for its use on Facebook is also in the works; both are expected to be implemented soon. Supporting e-commerce on its platform is also among Meta's plans to create other sources of revenue.
NFTs are virtual assets that are unique, cannot be replaced with others and can be sent to other digital wallets. Like Bitcoin, their quantity is limited and could potentially add to its value. Meta could monetise these through fees or ads, the report said.
The metaverse – the emerging digital space that allows those in it to communicate and move using three-dimensional avatars or digital representations – is seen as the future of interaction and is being highly touted by Meta.
The value of the global metaverse market is projected to reach about $1.61 trillion in 2030 and at a compound annual growth rate of 43.3 per cent over the forecast period, according to a report from Emergen Research this week.
This will driven by key factors such as rising demand for apps and products based on virtual, augmented and mixed reality, plus the increasing focus on the convergence of digital/virtual and physical worlds, it said.
Facebook in February reported weaker-than-expected earnings in its fiscal fourth quarter and data showed it had lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year history. Net profit dropped more than 8 per cent annually to $10.2 billion but was about 11 per cent up on a quarterly basis. This caused the company's share price to plunge 20 per cent.
Shares of Facebook closed down 3.68 per cent on Wednesday.