Facebook Less Worried About Crypto Ads Now That Its Own Cryptocurrency Is in the Works

On Wednesday (May 8), Facebook announced a few important updates to its advertising policies related to "blockchain, cryptocurrency and financial products and services."

The Origin of the Outright Ban on Crypto-Related Advertising

On 30 January 2018, Facebook announced that it had created a new policy (called "Prohibited Financial Products and Services") that disallows ads that "promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency." It acknowledged at the time that this complete ban on all crypto-related ads was perhaps a bit too drastic a measure:

"This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices, and enforcement will begin to ramp up across our platforms including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram. We will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve."

Allowing Crypto Ads but Only From Pre-Approved Advertisers 

On 26 June 2018, Facebook said that it had updated its "Prohibited Financial Products and Services Policy" to "allow ads that promote cryptocurrency and related content from pre-approved advertisers" whilst still prohibiting "ads that promote binary options and initial coin offerings." Any business wishing to advertise crypto-related products and services had to prove that it was eligible by filling out a form called "Cryptocurrency Products and Services Onboarding Request" as well as as provide proof of ownership of the domain(s) associated with the application.

Facebook's Focus on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

The first time we got a hint of Facebook's interest in cryptocurrency was on 4 January 2018 when CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page that one of his personal missions for 2018 was to learn more about this subject. 

And then in May 2018 the world first found out that Facebook was getting serious about blockchain technology. On 8 May 2018, in a post on Facebook, David Marcus, the former head of Messenger, who was at that time also a board member (since December 2017) of crypto exchange Coinbase, revealed that he was leaving that role to set up a new group focused on exploring applications of blockchain technology across the whole of Facebook.

On 13 December 2018, Cheddar reported that Facebook’s blockchain group is planning to "potentially disrupt the entire payments industry":

"At a private dinner Facebook hosted during a recent crypto conference, one attendee told Cheddar that Facebook employees pitched the idea of creating a decentralized digital currency for the social network’s 2 billion users."

Several days later, Bloomberg reported that Facebook was creating its own cryptocurrency (a stablecoin) for money transfers within its highly popular messaging app WhatsApp. Roughly, two months later (28 February 2019), the New York Times confirmed Bloomberg's earlier story, and said that, according to its sources, this project was "far enough along that the social networking giant has held conversations with cryptocurrency exchanges about selling the Facebook coin to consumers."

Then, around one month ago, Nathaniel Popper, one of the two journalists who wrote the report in the New York Times, provided this update (on Twitter) about Facebook's cryptocurrency project:

And finally, one week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook was "recruiting dozens of financial firms and online merchants to help launch a cryptocurrency-based payments system," and that the core part of this initiative (code-named "Project Libra") is "a digital coin that its users could send to each other and use to make purchases both on Facebook and across the internet." Furthermore, this report said that, according to people familiar, Facebook was talking to "financial institutions including Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and payment processor First Data Corp." about investing in this project.

Facebook's Latest Thinking on Crypto Ads

On Wednesday (May 8), Facebook announced that since June 2018 it has been listening to "feedback", and that while those wishing to run ads that promote cryptocurrencies still need pre-approval, it was no longer demanding "pre-approval for ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events related to cryptocurrency." It also said that it will "continue to ban ads for initial coin offerings (ICOs) as well as ads for binary options."

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pexels.com

Cannabis Shops Turn to Crypto Apps Amidst Coronavirus Cash Shortages

Michael LaVere
  • Cannabis shops in Boulder, Colorado are using bitcoin payment app Strike to conduct "contactless" exchanges.
  • Cash shortages and lack of sanitation are causing businesses to find alternative means for transaction. 

Cannabis shops are using bitcoin payment services to conduct business in place of fiat amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to a report by CoinDesk, cannabis dispensaries in Boulder, Colorado have been onboarded to the closed beta for Strike, a bitcoin payment service application founded by lighting network supporter Zap. 

Zap, founded by Jack Mallers, has been operating a closed beta for the payment application Strike which allows users the option of sending bitcoin or dollars and receiving funds in their bank account. The application uses a simple QR code interface, similar to Venmo, that allows users to send funds without having prior knowledge or expertise with bitcoin. 

Mallers said, 

Every Strike user is given a public domain at strike.me. We’re using Lightning for really fast online settlement of value transfers. … It’s also beneficial for privacy on the sender’s side.

Johnny Kurish, general manager at Boulder’s Helping Hands Herbals cannabis shop, said the application allowed his dispensary to process $1,000 worth of purchases since being added to the beta last week. 

Kurish said the dispensary will switch to only accepting Strike payments, which allow for contactless exchanges in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

He said, 

We’re really lucky to have curbside drop-offs. We check the ID through the roll-up window, deliver the cannabis to a podium in front of the car. We’re happy to reopen with an option that’s safe for our staff.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com