Messaging embraces the blockchain
June 14, 2019
A conversational newsletter from
Smooch by Zendesk 

After months of hints and speculation, Facebook will unveil its own cryptocurrency as soon as next week, according to TechCrunch.

The move is part of Facebook’s ongoing pivot away from its controversial newsfeed and towards private messaging.

It also may be the tipping point conversational commerce has been waiting for.

Playing coin 🙈

Codenamed Libra, Facebook’s secretive crypto coin is expected to be announced in a whitepaper on June 18.

It will be a “stablecoin,” which means it will be pegged in value to old school currencies like the dollar or euro, protecting it from Bitcoin-like fluctuations.

The project is being led by David Marcus, a former PayPal exec who oversaw Facebook Messenger before starting the blockchain initiative last fall.

As Fast Company explains, developing its own currency would let Facebook bypass credit card and bank fees and enable users to send money around the world using Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, which the company is in the midst of merging into one chat app to rule them all.

Payments, of course, are a key element of WeChat’s much-heralded messaging dominance in China, which seems to have inspired Facebook’s strategy.

Get in LINE ✋

Facebook isn’t the first messaging player to develop its own cryptocurrency.  

Telegram raised $1.7 billion to fund its crypto project and both LINE and Kakao, the leading chat apps in Japan and South Korea, have jumped on the blockchain bandwagon, with Kakao’s platform set to launch this month.

Last week LINE announced a partnership with Visa that will let its 187 million users apply for credit cards within the app. The “blockchain angle,” explains Forbes, is that the two companies will use blockchain for “B2B and cross-border payments.”

On the other side of the coin, anonymous messaging app Kik was sued earlier this month for raising money by selling its cryptocurrency, Kin. The SEC accused the Canadian company of failing to register sales to US investors.

Facebook is hoping it can keep regulators at bay by tying the coin’s value to traditional currencies and creating an independent foundation to govern it.

According to reports, the coin may soon be available at ATMs. When you consider Facebook’s global footprint — WhatsApp alone has 1.5 billion users — it’s easy to see how this could be the moment digital money goes mainstream.

As the New York Times notes:
« The messaging companies have a reach that dwarfs the backers of earlier cryptocurrencies.

All in the conversation 💜

When Chris Messina started talking about conversational commerce back in 2015, many assumed payments would be the killer feature that brought WeChat-style business messaging to the western world. That didn’t happen.

Instead, as the channels slowly opened their doors to businesses, early adopters focused on delivering delightfully personal and frictionless experiences through chat, growing customer loyalty and satisfaction along the way.

Facilitating these experiences has been our mission at Smooch, which is why we were stoked to join forces with Zendesk, another company that lives and breathes CX.

Of course, buying stuff is a key part of the customer experience. And doing it via messaging is about to become a whole lot easier.

The Slack of Wall Street

With Slack’s long-anticipated IPO just a week away, another workplace messaging app is stealing headlines.   

Symphony, which lets bankers message each other and their clients, raised $165 million at a $1.4 billion valuation this week, according to Reuters.

No strings attached 🎻

The workplace messaging space is already pretty crowded, with Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace nipping at Slack’s heels.

By focusing on the unique requirements of the financial services industry (security and privacy, for starters), Symphony has grown to the tune of roughly 425,000 users across 400 companies.

Even Symphony’s CEO, David Gurlé, seemed surprised by the size of the round. Gurlé had planned to raise a “more modest” sum but, as TechCrunch, observes:
«  It appears that when your primary customers are also investors, things can ramp up quickly.

👋 Thanks for reading! You can send me your feedback, questions and spare crypto-change by replying to this email. 

Dan Levy
Editorial Director

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