Meta has drawn up plans to introduce virtual coins, tokens, and lending services to its apps, as Facebook’s parent company pursues its finance ambitions despite the collapse of a project to launch a cryptocurrency.
The company, led by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is seeking alternative revenue streams and new features that can attract and retain users, as popularity falls for its main social networking products such as Facebook and Instagram—a trend that threatens its $118 billion-a- year ad-based business model.
Facebook’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been exploring the creation of a virtual currency for the metaverse, which employees internally have dubbed “Zuck Bucks,” according to several people familiar with the efforts.
This is unlikely to be a cryptocurrency based on the blockchain, some of the people said. Instead, Meta is leaning toward introducing in-app tokens that would be centrally controlled by the company, similar to those used in gaming apps such as the robux currency in the popular children’s game Roblox.
According to company memos and people close to the plans, Meta is also looking into the creation of “social tokens” or “reputation tokens,” which could be issued as rewards for meaningful contributions in Facebook groups, for example. Another effort is to make “creator coins” that might be associated with particular influencers on its photo-sharing app Instagram.
Meta has also been exploring more traditional financial services, with a focus on helping to provide small business loans at attractive rates, according to several people familiar with the initiative. While nothing is immediately planned, the company has previously held discussions with potential lending partners, one of the people said.
Most of the efforts are in the early stages of being discussed and could change or be dropped, although its plans to integrate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into its apps are more developed. Zuckerberg confirmed an earlier Financial Times report that Instagram would soon start to support NFTs.
According to one memo shared internally last week, Meta plans to launch a pilot for posting and sharing NFTs on Facebook in mid-May. This will be “quickly followed” by testing of a feature that will allow membership of Facebook groups based on NFT ownership and another for minting—a term for creating—NFTs.
NFTs may be monetized via “fees and/or ads” in the future, according to another internal document.
Facebook declined to comment.
Meta lost more than $220 billion from its market valuation in February on the day it revealed users were spending increasing time on newer rivals, such as short-form video app TikTok.