Facebook to unveil new cryptocurrency

Facebook will outline the details of the cryptocurrency on Tuesday. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Facebook to unveil new cryptocurrency

  • Companies and venture capitalists will invest around $10m each in the new cryptocurrency
  • Facebook faced a series issues regarding privacy abuses and fake news

LONDON: Facebook is set Tuesday to unveil a bid to bring cryptocurrency payments into the mainstream, reportedly with the endorsement of governments and financial giants.
The world’s biggest social network is expected to outline details of a virtual currency launching next year that it hopes will avoid the rollercoaster volatility of “blockchain” technologies such as bitcoin.
Facebook is setting up a consortium called “Libra” which, according to the Wall Street Journal, has been joined by more than a dozen companies including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Uber.
The companies along with venture capitalists and telecommunications firms will reportedly invest around $10 million each into the consortium.
Facebook has been trying to ward off hostile regulatory scrutiny after a series of privacy abuses and the spread of fake news.
The consortium will be managed externally and will seek to build trust among consumers by pegging the virtual coin to a basket of currencies including the dollar and euro, the Journal said.
Facebook has already sought blessings from the US Treasury and the Bank of England, the BBC reported last month.
Regulators have been reticent about cryptocurrencies, not only due to potential abuse by criminals but the wild swings in their value harming consumers.
With more than two billion users across its platforms, which include WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook could have the clout to bring cryptocurrency out of the fringes and emulate the likes of WeChat in China, where the US site is banned.
WeChat allows its users to chat, shop and play games without leaving its platform, generating more revenue by offering a one-stop portal.
Buffeted by the privacy storms, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has promised a new direction for Facebook built around smaller groups, private messaging and payments.
But it will need to overcome questions of trust and privacy, not least over how financial data will be stored. Some analysts are betting that the heavyweight Libra consortium will help to do that.
Facebook’s crypto initiative could facilitate shopping, applications and gaming, and would leverage its broad user base in Asia, RBC analyst Mark Mahaney said in a research note last week.
It “may prove to be one of the most important initiatives in the history of the company to unlock new engagement and revenue streams,” he wrote.


Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.