So let’s imagine that Libra does get off the ground. What’s its biggest competition? Hint: it’s not Bitcoin. Let’s start with the dollar—arguably the most powerful currency in the world. About 350 million people use the dollar around the world. That’s a little under 13 percent of Facebook’s claimed 2.7 billion users (across all three platforms), so even accounting for duplicates, fake accounts, and rounding errors, Libra could be used by more people—if not actual amount spent—than the dollar, and without a whole lot of sweat from Facebook.
Not buying it? Here’s an example of anemic adoption on Facebook. The company introduced Stories on Facebook in January 2017, and the feature was derided as a direct Snapchat ripoff that was so poorly implemented and confusing as to be laughable. By fall of 2018, over 300 million people were using Stories. Boom. Dollar.
The likelihood of Libra’s adoption is even higher because the company’s fastest growth is international, and Libra is likely to be the most useful in countries where the local currency is hyperinflated or banking is unreliable. Think of the 170 million Facebook users in Africa, many of whom already bank and transact on mobile phones. It’s an easy sell.
And if Libra starts big, the network effects of the Facebook platform will ensure that it just keeps getting bigger.
The mind reels.