The project lead for Facebook Messenger has announced that he is leaving the team to focus on creating opportunities with blockchain.
It’s not yet clear how Facebook and its head of blockchain David Marcus will leverage the new technology, but one expert believes that the social network may offer an ad-free version, paid for in Facebook’s own cryptocurrency.
“There’s a lot of buzz around whether Facebook will become a paid-for service,” says Sara Simeone, vice president of marketing and blockchain at content aggregator Wakelet.
“They could use it to redeem against premium features, so it would be a way to monetise the platform without charging users.”
She added: “Another smoother way is for Facebook to introduce some services.
“Only time will tell but it’ll be an interesting way for them to introduce a token or points system or something to incentivise people to use the platform more.”
Simeone, who holds a master thesis in machine learning applied to digital marketing, believes that adopting blockchain technology could also be a chance for the social network to repair trust with its users.
“Blockchain is a ledger, it’s immutable and it guarantees transparency so they could use it to reinstate trust between the user and the advertisers and Facebook itself.
“Blockchain has been a buzzword in 2018 and has been associated with crypto and ICOs, however the most interesting part is the promise of this tech for a decentralised future which Facebook can leverage to clean up their name from the recent scandal.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how it will use blockchain to redefine the business model and package it up.”
Marcus, who previously spent four years on the Facebook Messenger team, is no stranger to cryptocurrency.
The self-confessed ‘cryptogeek’ and cryptocurrency investor was also the former lead at online payment service PayPal prior to Facebook, and is currently on the board of directors at the cryptocurrency exchange ‘Coinbase’.
“After nearly four unbelievably rewarding years leading Messenger, I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge,” he wrote in his Facebook post.
“I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”
He was also responsible for introducing the ability to send money to other Facebook contacts, but the social network was eyeing up blockchain technology even before the scandal of Cambridge Analytica became public.
“They already started to talk about blockchain and crypto in January, but now we can see how it’s all starting to come together,” said Simeone.
“Whether it’s going to take off is a difficult one, but if it does, I can see them paving the way for smaller companies to enter the crypto world.”