What you need to know about Facebook's new cryptocurrency

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Facebook has unveiled details of its new cryptocurrency, Libra and a digital wallet, Calibra, that can be used with its social media platforms including WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger. Libra is set for a 2020 public launch.

It is backed by a non-profit consortium made up of some of the biggest names in finance and technology, including Uber, Visa, Mastercard, Spotify. Each member organization invested at least $10 million to be a part of the partnership.

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On the organization's website, a 12-page white paper, and 200+ page technical paper outline the details of how the cryptocurrency will be governed, distributed and operate.

Suffice it to say, Libra is making some big promises. The three pillars include-- blockchain technology, a reserve of real assets that back the cryptocurrency, independent governance by Libra Association.

"The mission ultimately is to effectively to create a simple global currency and a financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people," says Dante Disparte, head of public policy at Geneva-based Libra Association.

The social media giant's announcement set off a Twitter storm of applause and criticism. Some, calling Libra a game changer because of the power players behind it and its promises of stability-- something other cryptocurrencies have struggled with.

However, with Facebook's dismal record on privacy, others are suspicious about Facebook's bold move to re-invent the global financial system.

"Some are saying this is a good technology with the wrong company, some are saying that if it wasn't Facebook you wouldn't face resistance, let's see what's going to happen," says Professor Ahmad Banafa.

For users, it's a debate between security and convenience. The promise of a stable digital currency could mean saving a lot of money on transaction fees. For those living outside of the country, it's an opportunity to have access to banking services, for the first time.

Banafa, who teaches blockchain technology and cryptocurrency at San Jose State University and Stanford University, believes in the technology. He understands why Facebook is getting into the digital money space but he has some concerns.

"They're trying to change it from a communication tool into an e-commerce tool. Now you ask me if that scares me, the only thing I'm worried about is if someone hacked into that system."
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