Date with your next Bank-Manager, Anyone?

What would YOU do if you ran the world’s biggest social networking, which reaches into every part of the globe, and which always said it was for the good of everyone… then you got found out exposing all the faithful to greedy data miners… and suddenly you and your prized brand left a bad taste in the mouth?

Look to move on pretty darn quickly, to distract attention?

You may not have noticed, but Facebook has just launched a dating app. Why not? They have all the data any start-up would ever, in their wildest dreams, wish for. Plus you already trust them, right?

But did you know quite how they’re moving in on your finances, too?

And that, with their involvement, this will be in the future of money: Bitcoin, Blockchain, cryptocurrency?

It’s long been a rumour that Facebook is getting into financial services, but until now it was nothing more than rumblings. Much like Amazon getting into flights, or Ryanair becoming an online hotel agency. Oh, I forgot, that’s already happening.

The news is actually already out there, but has not yet hit the mainstream. Facebook have appointed one of their top people, David Marcus, previously the CEO of Paypal and who has until now been running its own messaging app, Messenger, to head up its mission to work out how best to harness the technology.

Marcus also sits on the board at top cryptocurrency trading platform, Coinbase. A big hitter with vast experience of payment services and digital development.

Yes, that David Marcus — previously the CEO of Paypal…

So. What does this mean for the world? After all, Facebook started out with the most altruistic of intentions, enabling people to keep in touch after college.

It was hardly Mark Zuckerburg and co’s personal intention to gain the world’s trust, and then blow it apart by selling it to the highest bidder. In fact, it’s arguably a credit to them that they kept the monster in check as long as they did, as it became more corporate, and the pressure grew to monetise.

Marcus is apparently being joined on the Facebook blockchain team by some other high-fliers, including Instagram’s VP of Engineering, James Everingham, and its VP of Product, Kevin Weil, previously at Twitter. And with that team, Facebook’s almost certainly looking to pit its might against the current darling of the crypto crowd, Telegram — a messaging service about to ‘grow’ its own cryptocurrency. That’s going to be an interesting battle, with Facebooks 2.2 billion active users, compared with Telegram’s 200 million.

But if Facebook IS looking to build its own cryptocurrency, what would that mean for the world?

If it launched its own currency to its (give or take) 2.2 billion regular users and even a tiny fraction adopted it, it could very quickly become, should it so choose, not only the biggest bank (or similar) in the work but potentially the world’s de facto central bank!

Own the banks, own the world?

By way of perspective the last time the world’s biggest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, published its figures, it had around 496 million (ie ~0.5 Billion) personal customers and 5.32 million corporate customers. Currently, around 58% of all adults in the world — in the world! — are on Facebook.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I doubt Facebook’s looking to become the world’s biggest financial institution per-se. It may not be about to launch a new cryptocurrency. It may not be ready to ask you into the office to discuss your overdraft. Yet.

But make no mistake. This signals the way ahead — that not only blockchain but cryptocurrencies are going to become a part of all our futures — and change them radically.

This new way is almost upon us. Goldman Sachs is now the first major Wall Street bank to open a bitcoin trading desk. The Gibraltar Stock Exchange is about to launch the world’s first institutional-grade token sale platform and cryptocurrency exchange.

In just over a week i am speaking at a forum at the London Stock Exchange with BlockchainTV, courtesy of Forbes. Even Santander is rumoured to be getting in on the act. And they wouldn’t be the only UK high street bank to be looking at this.

So, whether you like cryptocurrency or not, this Blockchain world is the future for us all — from financial services to wine production, from antiquities to online gaming, from charitable giving to the hospitality industry, and for every aspect of life — except, perhaps, Morris dancing.

Which raises key questions of regulation — and transparency. Can the most centralised of corporates, who have just so comprehensively and indelibly blotted their copybook, be allowed to proceed to a destination which could involve control of the world’s money? Without scrutiny. Untrammeled, unobserved, unaccountable? Unregulated?

It’s One for You, Nineteen for me!
…as the Beatles once sang… complaining to “Mr Wilson, Mr Heath” of a 95% tax rate. Looking positively generous by comparisons with Facebook, who monetise our data without sharing at all.

Then there’s Crowdonomics and the sharing economy– self-policing transparently and by power of everyone (who chooses), having ownership — rather like Blockchain. Could this be the way to ensure that nothing worse than Facebook’s data-flogging can become our future? Can Facebook become transparent?

Welcome, to a better world.