Earlier this week, Facebook unveiled a new leadership team for Facebook Pay to oversee all payment activities for the Company. The F2 group will also pursue commerce opportunities across all of the Company’s apps, including WhatsApp Pay, cryptocurrency wallet Novi, and the U.S. rollout on Instagram.
It’s clear, big tech is entering Payments. While for the past few years, we’ve heard rumours, now with Google’s announcement last week, and Facebook’s launch of F2, it’s clear that big tech is focused on this category.
David Marcus, co-creator of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project, will head up F2, which is short for Facebook Financial.
The Company also hired Stephane Kasriel, former CEO of UpWork, and PayPal executive to serve as payments vice president.
The social media company launched Facebook Pay in November to enable users to make payments across its suite of applications. Initially, Facebook Pay was deployed on Facebook and Messenger and was recently rolled-out through WhatsApp in Brazil. The Company has plans to roll out Facebook Pay in the U.S. on Instagram in the coming weeks.
Today’s news follows a series of announcements starting in June of 2019 that demonstrate the Company’s interest in payments. First, with the announcement of a cryptocurrency network initiative called The Libra Project, “a global payment system and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people globally,” along with a digital wallet for the Libra network first called Calabria, but renamed Novi in May of this year.
Since Libra was first announced, policymakers around the world have expressed concerns about virtual currency disrupting the global financial system and risks of money laundering. Marcus testified before the Senate Banking Committee to a group of sceptical lawmakers in the summer of 2019. The members expressed their concerns about misuse and money laundering. He said, “Libra is backed on a one-to-one basis through cash bank deposits, short term government securities, and hard currencies, and the entire system would be fully vetted before launch.”
Beginning in October of 2019, Facebook faced a mass exodus of partners from the Libra Project. The first to drop out was Paypal. Then, over the next few weeks, Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe, and Mercado Pago all withdrew the project, leaving Libra in limbo after every major US payment processor left the association.
Now members include venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital, Slow Ventures, Temasek, Thrive Capital, and Union Square Ventures, ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber, eCommerce providers Checkout.com and Shopify, music streaming service Spotify and various other companies, which could mean as Libra moves forward they will look to the networks of members to identify new solutions to power the platform.