Meta may return to digital currencies despite its failures

The 'Zuck Buck' wouldn't be a cryptocurrency, however.

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of a projection of a "Zuck Buck" at a House Financial Services Committee hearing examining the company's plan to launch a digital currency on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Meta might not give up on the concept of digital currency just because its Diem crypto project has floundered. The Financial Times sources claim Meta is "exploring" a digital currency (internally nicknamed "Zuck Bucks") aimed at the metaverse. This probably wouldn't be a cryptocurrency, however — rather, the insiders said they would be centrally-managed, in-app tokens like those available through game platforms such as Roblox. In a sense, it would mark a return to the defunct Facebook Credits introduced in 2009.

The company is also reportedly mulling similar rewards for its biggest social media contributors, such as "creator coins" for Instagram influencers and "reputation tokens" for Facebook group participants. They might help communities moderate themselves, according to the leakers. You might also see conventional financial services like small business loans. These and the "Zuck Bucks" are said to be in the early stages of development and might be cancelled or changed.

Meta's NFT plans appear to be moving forward, at least. The Times' sources said a pilot for ad- and fee-based NFTs was expected to debut on Facebook in mid-May, with support for NFT-oriented groups soon afterward.

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The company has already declined to comment. If accurate, though, the scoop suggests Meta would rather overhaul its virtual finance strategy than give up altogether. The focus on self-managed currencies and NFTs might help Meta profit from the metaverse and its existing social media base while reducing the chances of regulatory pushback, executive departures and other headaches that plagued its cryptocurrency efforts.

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