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Will Facebook really empower the unbanked and gain traction in Venezuela?

by Isabel Woodford

June 18, 2019, 1:30PM EDT  ·  5 min read

Quick Take

  • Facebook has pitched “banking the unbanked” as a key use-case for its newly-announced cryptocurrency, set to launch in 2020
  • But one of the biggest questions emerging from their announcement is how exactly they will do that
  • Venezuela is one possible target, with nearly 10 million unbanked adults and an unstable national currency – alongside broad mobile and WhatsApp usage
  • We unpack what it takes to bank the billions and the lessons learnt from past initiatives like Mobile Money

by Isabel Woodford

June 18, 2019, 1:30PM EDT  ·  5 min read

You might expect the woeful state of global financial inclusion to be a concern for the UN or a non-profit, but not necessarily a social media giant like Facebook. But banking the unbanked is now apparently a core mission-statement for Mark Zuckerberg’s baby, via its cryptocurrency, Libra.

“1.7 billion adults globally remain outside of the financial system with no access to a traditional bank, even though one billion have a mobile phone,” Facebook’s documents about Libra point out.