The race is on for messaging companies to integrate digital currencies into their platforms. Facebook plans to launch a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users in the first half of 2019, according to the New York Times. The social media giant has already spoken to exchanges about listing the token, which would be backed by a basket of traditional currencies. Other messaging apps, including Signal and Telegram, are also planning to roll out digital currencies, which could be used for for payments between their users, over the next year.
It is likely that any cryptocurrency offered by Facebook or Telegram could reach a scale that the backers of existing cryptocurrencies could only dream of, threatening bitcoin’s growth. There are still questions about how much control Facebook would have over its token, which could prompt skepticism among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. This might be far less of a worry for the general public than whether it works though. Bitcoin has encountered issues with slow transaction times and high fees, raising doubts about its viability as a means of exchange. As we have previously reported, Facebook had expressed concerns about the technology’s ability to support its enormous user base.