The last few years have been challenging for Facebook. First, there were the US election scandals, then various early Facebook employees took to publicly bashing the company, and now a few US politicians are going so far as to advocate breaking up Facebook. After Facebook shared its plans for Libra with the world, there were many vocal opinions against it. Everyone from Mark Cuban to Maxine Waters has expressed concerns on the dangers of Libra. Perhaps the media and political assault on Facebook’s Libra is overdone. If you look past the noise, and look closely at Libra based on what Facebook is saying in it’s white paper, there is a good chance that Libra could work. More importantly, by allowing people to connect and interact in a more meaningful manner, it could provide enormous value for the world.
Why we should look at Libra with an open mind
My opinion on this issue has been formed by my experiences as Chairman at jovoto (www.jovoto.com), a global innovation platform based in Berlin. On the jovoto platform, freelance creative talents from around the world work collaboratively on projects for major corporations, NGO’s, and partners. While the participating creative talents may live in South America, Europe, Africa, or the USA, they come together on the jovoto platform to work on fast-paced creative, design, and innovation projects for our clients. Almost all of our projects involve participants from multiple countries, and as a result jovoto is in a unique position to recognize the possibilities of a “Future of Work” that is just starting to develop today.
The Future of Work is global and collaborative
On the jovoto platform, we leverage the talent of over 100,000 global freelance creatives to work collaboratively on project challenges in a process that we call a “Crowdstorm”. Participants may choose to work independently as individuals, but we also give them the flexibility to partner together on tasks as they see fit. There are many examples where creatives who live in two different countries, and perhaps will never meet in person, decide to work together on a creative task. Since our platform is transparent, each member can evaluate the skills of their fellow participants based on an extensive catalogue of their prior work. We give them the full freedom to make choices about who to partner with, how they work together, and how much each will be paid. When any type of team based work does occur, there is generally the need for a value exchange (i.e money) for these team members to split up. When the time comes for these participants to “settle up”, we usually don’t get involved, but we do know that today’s tools are less than optimal. With Libra I see the possibility of a solution that allows cross border value exchange to happen more quickly, easily, fairly, and with a much higher degree of trust between participants.
A recent jovoto project example illustrates the possibilities
Recently we conducted a project for the Digital Arabia Network (https://digitalarabia.network/). This project involved activating, engaging and motivating a network of creatives with the task of imagining technology solutions that could positively impact citizens in the Arab region. During the project, creatives from around the world collaborated with each other to produce great ideas and concepts. In total, more than a third of the submissions were from collaborations between creatives, and one of the three selected “winning” ideas was from a creative team which formed just to solve this problem.
It is very encouraging to think about the “net good” of these types of projects, initiatives where global citizens work together to develop solutions for problems common to a developing region. If this global willingness to work together can be coupled with a trusted low fee payment system, which also provides stable long term value storage (like Libra), we could have a pretty effective model for a global economy that works together seamlessly in a peer to peer manner. This is the future of work.
At jovoto we generally tackle challenges for corporations. When it comes to facing larger global challenges (such as climate change) which impact everyone, and extend beyond the reach of one country, we need to be open to new ways of working that allow the global economy to mature and develop in a more collaborative and inclusive manner. We are not quite there yet, but perhaps Libra could accelerate us in the right direction.
Libra could offer a ladder of prosperity to millions of people
By putting powerful tools in the hands of global citizens, Libra will support two fundamental concepts which are good for humanity. First, trade between people generally leads to peace. People that rely on each other through trade networks find it difficult to have significant conflicts with each other. Second, stable savings tools are a good thing. When citizens have the ability to store value reliably (either at traditional banks today or in the future stable cryptocurrencies) they gain a key tool to climb the economic ladder. They’ll likely develop the wherewithal to improve their lives and those of their children. I can envision a day when one of jovoto’s creative community members, perhaps in a rural area under served by local government, can use a Libra payment to secure better education options for their child. This is a positive for humanity, and if Libra can help us get there, why should we reject it so quickly?
Facebook has a massive adoption advantage, which is the key to pulling this off
I have followed a number of cryptocurrency business models over the past several years. I have evaluated various ICO whitepapers and joined dedicated Slack channels. While there is no shortage of interesting crypto projects, in my opinion there has always been a backward approach to how these entities were launched. In general the cryptocurrency models start out with a perfect story (a white paper and ICO), but are followed by substandard execution, dismal adoption, and in the end, users and investors are left holding a token or coin that is worthless. This model is clearly not the best way to launch a global idea involving value.
This is where Facebook has an enormous advantage with its ubiquitous consumer adoption. Facebook properties (Whatsapp, Messenger and Instagram) are the “on ramp” to the internet for a large portion of the global population. Except in places where it is banned, Facebook tools are accessible to virtually anyone on the planet. Facebook is in a unique position to put reliable financial tools in the hands of billions of people.
Will Libra make the US Dollar or the Euro obsolete?
While politicians may be worried that Facebook might make their currency obsolete, the opposite may in fact turn out to be the case. By pegging Libra to a basket of stable currencies, Facebook will have done these currencies (and the countries that back them) a giant favor. For citizens of countries such as Venezuela or Argentina, access to a Libra coin, which is partially pegged to the US Dollar, is probably far preferable to the current fiat currencies of those nations. Perhaps in the end, Libra will give the US Dollar wider reach and a greater level of adoption than it could ever achieve on its own.
Let’s give Libra a chance
In the end I believe that Facebook’s Libra will give global citizens an option for more freedom, freedom to transact, freedom to trade, and freedom to make decisions about value which are not encumbered by legacy business models such as those that constrain the modern banking system. In the future, users may choose to adopt different tools which are even better suited than Libra for their needs. In the meantime, I support giving Facebook the space they need to bring Libra to market.
@tbroderi at Twitter
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