The next 100 million users of cryptocurrencies might very well come from the big social media platforms. We predict that in 2019 some of the big platforms will make their first moves.
This trend really showed up on our radar in a real way when in January 5, 2018 Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, posted his new year’s resolution:
For example, one of the most interesting questions in technology right now is about centralization vs decentralization. A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands. (The first four words of Facebook’s mission have always been “give people the power”.) Back in the 1990s and 2000s, most people believed technology would be a decentralizing force.
But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.
There are important counter-trends to this — like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.
It became clear that the biggest social media platform in the world is seriously looking in to cryptocurrencies. It was followed by a report by Bloomberg in December of 2018 detailing how Facebook is developing a stablecoin for WhatsApp. WhatsApp is Facebook’s popular messaging platform with around 1.5 billion users worldwide — more than any other messing app. After Facebook this month (February of 2019) made their first crypto related acquisition, recently media reports have surfaced detailing their hunt for further crypto acquisitions. We are really excited about what Facebook/WhatsApp will do in 2019.
Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, the mobile payment company. It is increasingly clear he is a major Bitcoin bull. In March of 2018 in an interview with The Times of London, he said:
The world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be bitcoin
He personally invested in Lightning Labs, a company developing the technology, Lightning, for scaling Bitcoin and shared the stage with its co-founder Elizabeth Stark at Consensus in New York last year.
Square’s CashApp is already a top 10 mobile app in the US for peer-to-peer payments — they have had the functionality to buy Bitcoin for a while (btw a functionality that was developed by their engineers here in Australia!).
I speculate that Square will soon enable Bitcoin as a payment method on their readers you see at merchants in many countries around the world:
Square could also be leading the adoption of Lightning and micro payments, as their CEO has confirmed is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ that technology is rolled out on CashApp. Lightning enables payments of as little as 1 Satoshi, that’s 1/100 millionth of a Bitcoin. Micro payments could make our money ‘streaming’ and enable us to get paid and pay for services on a per usage or per second basis.
But the reality is Jack Dorsey could very well have much bigger plans than that:
Maybe a little ‘Too soon’ but social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter could indeed become the new banks in the decades ahead.
Last year we spoke with Josh Goldbald from Mobilecoin. They work with Signal to launch a new privacy centred cryptocurrency. Signal has been on the frontier of messaging apps for some time. It was the legendary developer behind Signal’s technology, Moxie Marlinspike, that helped Facebook deploy its end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp.
Telegram with its 200 million users did an ICO last year. They raised USD 1.7 billion from over 100 investors. According to Media reports Telegram’s blockchain is 90% developed and is looking to launch as soon as next month with a focus on Asian countries including Japan. Telegram is already a favourite messaging platform in the crypto space and might be the first big social media platform to launch a native cryptocurrency.
It is clear that some of the leading social media platforms are gearing up to dive into the crypto markets. Due to the sheer size of social media and messaging platforms they could be the on-boarders for the next 100 million people into crypto. Watch this space in 2019.
Henrik Andersson is the Chief Investment Officer of Apollo Capital — Australia’s Premier Crypto Fund. The Apollo Capital Fund is a professionally managed portfolio of crypto assets, offering investors exposure to the fast growing crypto market. For more information, please see apollocap.io.