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Facebook's David Marcus to Lead New Blockchain Research Unit

Social media giant Facebook is launching a team dedicated to exploring blockchain technology.

The initiative will be spearheaded David Marcus, who has served as the company’s vice president for its Messenger app division. Marcus is a former president of PayPal.

“After nearly four unbelievably rewarding years leading Messenger, I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge. I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch,” Marcus wrote in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

A report from Recode indicated that while the team will have fewer than a dozen people, it will feature engineering and product staff from Facebook’s Instagram unit as well.

Although it remains unknown at this stage the exact work to be carried out by the new team, the news marks a notable move by the social media giant.

It also follows a remark made by the ex-PayPal president – who joined the board of directors of crypto exchange Coinbase last year – that Facebook Messenger is open to the idea of embracing cryptocurrency payments once the blockchain community can “fix all the issues.”

The formation of Facebook’s new blockchain team follows a platform-wide ban on cryptocurrency-related ads, with the social media company cciting concerns that users had been exposed to fraudulent ICOs and cryptocurrency schemes.

Facebook image via Shutterstock

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Ex-PayPal President: Facebook Messenger Unlikely to Support Crypto

Facebook Messenger is unlikely to embrace cryptocurrency payments anytime soon according to David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging.

In a recent interview with CNBC, the former president of PayPal pointed to perceived issues with existing cryptocurrencies, specifying high transaction fees and slow transaction times as reasons why the product isn’t likely to introduce the technology as a payment method, at least in the near term.

However, Marcus, who joined the board of Coinbase in late 2017, did leave the door open to allowing such payments in the future, saying that when blockchain developer communities “fix all the issues,” it’s possible that the company will “do something” to open up the option.

The comments notably follow Facebook’s ban on cryptocurrency-related ads. Announced last week, the social media giant cited concerns that users were being exposed to fraudulent ICOs and cryptocurrency schemes amidst what has been a wave of regulatory actions to start 2018.

During the interview, Marcus reiterated these concerns, saying the ban was part of a move to “protect the community.” Fraudulent ICOs can reflect poorly on the entire cryptocurrency space, and according to Marcus, “a vast majority of these ads were a scam.”

Still, cryptocurrency and ICO-related content may return to Facebook in the future, Marcus said.

He told CNBC:

“Once the industry self regulates a lot better and you have better more legit products that want to be advertised on the platform. When we get to that stage, we’ll figure out a way to reintroduce these things.”

Facebook image via Shutterstock

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