Facebook is to launch its own cryptocurrency within the next year, saying its plans will deliver an "inclusive and open" financial ecosystem.

The currency, to be called Libra, is part of a Calibra digital wallet package under development that will be available as a standalone app before mid-2020.

It will allow only payments between users initially, via smartphones or other devices, but Libra will be open source – meaning the currency can be included in existing digital wallets.

Facebook said Libra was to be a medium for payments rather than a Bitcoin-style cryptocurrency – largely unregulated and vulnerable to wild fluctuations in value.

Image: The value of Bitcoin has fluctuated between 3,000 and more than 9,000 dollars over the past 12 months

The company said it would have "no special role" in governing Libra.


It explained that the value would be underpinned by a reserve of real assets managed by a string of big firms under a not-for-profit umbrella organisation.

It said the Libra Association was aiming to attract 100, largely multi-national, entities by the time of the launch.

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Each must pay $10m (£8m) to get on board.

There are currently 28 such firms signed up, including Spotify, Uber and Vodafone.

Facebook said Libra was being supported by not only a reserve of the world's best assets but also the world's most trusted central banks.

David Marcus, who started exploring the blockchain-powered currency at Facebook a year ago, said the banks had given Libra "general cautious support".

He said: "Libra holds the potential to provide billions of people around the world with access to a more inclusive, more open financial ecosystem."

The Bank of England told Sky News it had no comment to make on Facebook's plans while other regulators were yet to reveal an official view on the potential for global financial stability implications.

Mark Zuckerberg was 23 when he made it onto the Forbes billionaire list
Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is under huge pressure to protect users' financial and other data

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