A photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is seen on September 13 2018 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Yu Chun Christopher Wong | S3studio | Getty Images
The digital currency industry is fired up about Facebook‘s cryptocurrency efforts.
Bitcoin bulls say the tech giant’s stamp of approval would legitimize the space, make it easier to buy other digital assets, and spark major financial institutions to get out of “wait and see” mode.
“Facebook’s efforts in the space has the potential to be one of, if not the most significant external catalysts for bitcoin and crypto adoption in the technology’s history,” said Spencer Bogart, general partner at San Francisco-based investment firm Blockchain Capital.
Several news outlets including Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal have reported that the company has been building its own digital currency for users to trade and spend through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Some reports say Facebook is set to announce its plans this week, helping bitcoin rally above $9,000 to more than a one-year high. Facebook shares also jumped more than 3 percent Monday ahead of the expected announcement.
The social network hired former PayPal executive David Marcus to begin exploring opportunities with blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As it approaches a public release, there are now more than 100 people working on the project, according to information on LinkedIn, and Facebook is still expanding the team. The Information reported that Facebook is also planning physical, ATM-like machines where users can buy the currency and that company employees will be able to collect salary in the form of new currency.
Lowering the barrier
One side effect of Facebook’s entrance to the market would be an easier entry point for the average person to buy cryptocurrencies.
Right now, bitcoin and others can be bought on exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini, or through some consumer finance apps like Square Cash and…