By Jenny Lynton
When cryptocurrency was initially thrust into the spotlight in 2017, traditional institutions steered clear of the enigmatic currency. However, there are signs the tide is changing. We used the CoinWatch Platform to identify three large cap industry goliaths, namely Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) that have just unveiled plans to break into the world of blockchain.
Facebook To Launch its Own Cryptocurrency
Social media tycoon Mark Zuckerberg sent pulses racing this week with news that Facebook is ‘very serious’ about exploring its own cryptocurrency spin-off. This shock decision is a sharp U-turn from its former position.
In January, Facebook issued a ban on all ads promoting crypto, in a bid to block people from advertising ‘financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices’. Subsequently, FB Corporate Developer Morgan Bellar assured the public that Facebook had no plans to integrate blockchain as ’payments using crypto right now is just very expensive, super slow, so the various communities running the different blockchains and the different assets need to fix all the issues.’
However, Cheddar sources have now revealed that Bellar had already been exploring the possibility of entering the blockchain for almost a year. At the same time, Vice President of the Messenger App, David Marcus, has announced further plans to ‘explore how to best leverage the power of blockchain technology across Facebook, starting from scratch’. Marcus said he would spearhead a new team to ‘explore many different applications.’ Despite the infinite number of questions raised by this revelation, Marcus abruptly concluded ‘we don’t have anything further to share.’
Whether this announcement was unveiled to divert attention from Facebook’s data issues, or to give Facebook a credible boost, the networking giant is still an iconic benchmark for the industry. A pivotal move like this could represent a monumental shift for the entire social media and crypto landscape.
Amazon Unveils New Blockchain Partnership
Tech giant Amazon is showing more signs of blockchain fever, by forging a new partnership between its cloud computing segment Amazon Web Services (AWS) and blockchain start-up Kaleido. The initiative is designed to allow customers to put their services on blockchain more seamlessly and was unveiled this week in New York.
An AWS spokesperson said that ‘introducing Kaleido to AWS customers is going to help customers move faster and not worry about managing blockchain themselves.’ They added that it will help them rapidly advance their blockchain projects. Kaleido founder Steve Cerveny said the move will enable customers to ‘focus on their scenario and they don’t have to become PhDs in cryptography, we give them a simple platform to build their company on blockchain’.
Blockchain business cloud Kaleido is based on Ethereum, and this partnership is one of the ventures supported by Ethereum founder Joseph Lubin and his blockchain company Consensys. Lubin is optimistic about the deal, saying: ‘this is a heavy duty, full stack way of getting the company into blockchain solutions.’ He mused that he has seen a notable spike in ‘interest around the technology’ from ‘thousands of companies around the world’ who previously could not spell blockchain, but now have a ‘real sophistication around this.’
The initiative is also another turnaround from last year when consumers petitioned Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to enable crypto e-commerce payments. Although Amazon has yet to adopt this idea, this latest development is nonetheless a small step towards blockchain validation.
Goldman Sachs Backs a Crypto Spin-Off
A Goldman Sachs-funded start-up called Circle has just announced plans to unleash a new cryptocurrency that is a ‘better, faster, digital version of the U.S. dollar’. The fintech start-up recently wrapped up a $110 million in an investment round with crypto-mining company Bitmain, and Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire hailed the new currency as ‘basically a dollar that operates on blockchain.’
Circle functions as a peer-to-peer payment network using blockchain technology. After the $110 million cash injection, this brought its value to a staggering $3 billion, and the two companies have partnered to ‘develop the fiat-backed token or stable coin’. Allaire signaled that the initiative is designed to tackle the instability and volatility of cryptocurrencies and that the ‘blockchain-native asset will be supported by government currency and enable digital wallets to communicate with each other’.
Circle is one of the most well-funded fintech startups in the game, with prominent support from investment giants including Goldman Sachs. Allaire predicts that ‘there are a number of banks who are excited about it and will support it.’ He continues that it ‘is part of Circle’s bid to become a conglomerate of cryptocurrency trading services, moving it beyond just the level of an exchange platform’. The project is set to be branded Circle USD Coin, or USDC and should be ready for lift-off by the summer.