Facebook just hopped aboard the crypto craze.
On Tuesday, the social media giant announced plans to create a new cryptocurrency called Libra, backed by a consortium of companies including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Booking Holdings. Some crypto experts saw the move as a "validation" of the growing digital currency market, which has been in flux for some time amid volatility in bitcoin prices.
Wall Street analysts were largely impressed by the move, and market watchers followed suit.
Here's what four experts, including David Marcus — the man behind Facebook's Libra project — and CNBC's Jim Cramer, thought of the move:
David Marcus, Facebook's cryptocurrency chief and head of its Calibra subsidiary, which will provide a framework for storing and exchanging Libra, said it was time for Facebook to try something new:
"If you want to compare Libra with traditional cryptocurrencies, the first thing and the first big difference is that, typically, cryptocurrencies are investment vehicles or investment assets rather than being a great medium of exchange. And this is really designed from the ground up to be a great medium of exchange, a very high-quality form of digital money that you can use for everyday payments and cross-border payments, micro-transactions and all kinds of different things. … We felt that it was time to try something new, and this is the beginning of a long journey to launching this new network and this new digital currency."
Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Ventures Partners liked the move, but said it might play better internationally:
"It seems like a really smart move by Facebook. If you think about here in the U.S., we have the rule of law, we have pretty high trust levels in the government to manage the monetary supply, we have pretty good faith in our financial institutions, and so we don't necessarily see the need for a stablecoin of the type that Facebook is launching with Libra. But if you look to parts of the developing world, that isn't necessarily true, and if you think about if you were in Venezuela or parts of the Middle East [or] parts of Africa where the governments are less stable, where the financial institutions are less stable, if you were able to store your wealth in currency, you may well have more trust in Facebook and the organization of corporations that are backing Libra than you might have in your alternatives in those places."
"I described this yesterday as being brilliant because I think that this is a way to be able to show Congress, government, we're really trusted. We're doing this nonprofit. There's 2.6 billion people that are underbanked. I thought at one point they were going to buy PayPal — of course, David Marcus is from PayPal — in order to be able to make this happen, but, instead, they're able to do it themselves. … If it weren't Marcus, I would question it. But this is not a charm offensive. It's something good. … They don't have enough money yet, but they will. Look ... 48% of the world is in currencies that are terrible. That's what crypto was originally for, which was to be able to deal with North Korean currency or deal with Venezuelan currency, and I think it's brilliant. I don't have any flies on it other than to say that if you're a real cynic, you can say, 'You know what? This is a way to be able to show Congress: 2.6 billion people trust us. I don't know what you're worried about with the privacy thing. We are Mr. Privacy and Mrs. Privacy.' I think it's brilliant."
Mark May, senior internet analyst at Citigroup, took it as a bullish sign in terms of Facebook's long-term prospects:
"It's very different from what we've seen [with] other cryptocurrencies. It's meant to be quite stable, to reduce volatility. There are a lot of significant Fortune 100 companies that are part of the association that [is] going to be backing this. So, it does feel much less speculative and much more trying to build a real-life substitute asset here — currency — for remittance payments, for merchant transactions and the like. And it plays right into, I think, Facebook's wheelhouse. They're playing the long game here. This is not about trying to drive e-commerce transactions on day one. I think it's about trying to build the community and really matching consumers with businesses in a different way than what's existed in the past, and ultimately trying to close the loop with the ad business that Facebook has built its entire enterprise on. So, I think it is a watershed moment. … Facebook is addressing these concerns head-on and continuing to innovate. And I think this is actually showing how seriously they're taking privacy concerns in the market by setting up these separate organizations, bringing in partners and having a bit of an arms-length relationship with the data that may exist in these markets. So I like the fact that they're taking it head-on and they're continuing to innovate."