Facebook stock gapped up then pulled back Tuesday as investors reacted to the unveiling of a digital coin that could move the social networking giant into new fields of e-commerce and global payments.
Early Tuesday morning, Facebook (FB) unveiled Libra, the name given a new digital currency designed to be used for the buying and selling of goods and services and other types of money transfers. The Libra coin introduction was accompanied by the announcement of the newly formed Libra Association, an independent group that will oversee management of the currency.
Facebook stock initially gapped up 1.4% during morning trading, before reversing. Facebook stock closed at 188.47, down 0.3% on the stock market today. Shares rose 4% on Monday, leaping above their 50-day moving average. Facebook stock is closing in on a 198.58 buy point with a large cup-with-handle base dating back to late July.
"We view Facebook's introduction of the Libra currency as a potential watershed moment for the company and global adoption of crypto," RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a note to clients. "The mission for Libra is a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people."
Mahaney has a buy rating on Facebook stock and price target of 250.
Facebook also announced a subsidiary called Calibra. It plans to introduce a digital wallet that can be used to hold and spend Libra currency. The goal of Calibra "is to provide financial services that will let people access and participate in the Libra network," Facebook said.
Calibra will let users send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, "and at low to no cost," Facebook said. The wallet will be available to people who have accounts with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
"In time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass," it said.
Digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, have been around for years. But the value of the currencies have fluctuated widely. Backing Libra with major currencies will avoid big fluctuations in value.
Working independently of Facebook, the Geneva-based Libra Association has the support of about 28 partners. They include Mastercard (MC), Visa (V) and PayPal (PYPL), as well as Uber Technologies (UBER), Spotify Technology (SPOT) and eBay (EBAY). The association will have voting power over the design and release of Libra, Facebook officials said.
A team of more than 100 Facebook employees led by former PayPal President David Marcus have worked on the Facebook digital coin plan for more than a year.
"Libra's mission is to enable a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people," Facebook said.
Facebook expects to launch Libra in the first half of 2020.
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