Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue

Facebook investors are going to like this announcement

Facebook has announced the most exciting new product of all the recent FAANG press releases. From “Sign In With Apple” to Uber’s IPO, this one beats them all.

Until now, Facebook has been reliant on advertising spend. In Q4 2018, Facebook’s advertising revenue was $16.6bn, of a total revenue $16.9bn.

Facebook has always received poor press coverage over its collection, harvesting and commercialisation of our data. What’s the best way to avoid this type of brand coverage?

Rebrand.

Enter Calibra. Or at least, Calibra will enter next year.

Calibra will start with a digital wallet, (that means money to you and me). Users will be able to send and receive money with other users as well as businesses. Calibra will combine Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger into one.

Distancing itself from Facebook’s “data problem”, how’s this for a clear statement:

“Calibra will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without customer consent.”

The press release for Calibra is careful to describe the wallet creation as using the same verification and anti-fraud processes as a bank, but it’s not a bank, it’s a wallet which holds money. Go figure.

The money that Calibra will use, will be Facebook’s own cryptocurrency called Libra. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Libra will be linked to real world assets, so users can be assured that the currency won’t spike, and that a coffee today will cost the same as a coffee tomorrow, not 20% higher like Bitcoin.

Calibra is a financial services platform, already with impressive partners. Calibra will start with a digital wallet, i.e. money, where users will be able to send and receive money to and from other users as well as businesses. Calibra will combine Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger in one.

Facebook Libra partner list
The impressive Libra partner list

To underline the strategic importance of Calibra, Facebook has hired Peggy Alford, who had been Senior Vice President, Core Markets of PayPal straight to the Facebook board of directors.

Keep your eyes on the digital wallet, Calibra, development. This might become the first cross-functional wallet, with identity (Facebook Connect), money, receipts, tickets and important documents in one. The money component, Libra, will be a global currency, so unlike your leather wallet with various currencies, this won’t be necessarily.

Facebook Calibra app design
Facebook’s first few screen designs of Calibra

It will be interesting to see how the other FAANGS respond. Expect to see Apple and Google try to regain parity soon with their own currency, while retail banks scratch their heads wondering how it affects them. Monzo and the challenger banks may have changed the user experience for banking applications, but Facebook has just changed the infrastructure and ecosystem.

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