Libra Actually is a Digital Identity Banking Play

Facebook can clone “self-sovereign identity” too. Nothing is sacred.

Michael K. Spencer
Jul 3 · 8 min read

Imagine if you could be the hub where digital identity is confirmed online for billions of people on the planet? Wouldn’t that be incredible? I think Mark Zuckerberg also feels that way.

Sure Libra faces regulatory hurdles, banking backlash, FinServ mass fear and even resistance from decentralization enthusiasts. Facebook knows how to grow a product, at least they did back in February 2004 and beyond!

We move fast and break things, nothing can stop us now. We’ve caught a snare for over 2 Billion people in the world, what else can we achieve?

  • We can bank the unbanked.
  • We can lead the world with a universal basic income project suggesting we believe in social empowerment for a better world.
  • We can be the mass adoption hub for blockchain based digital sovereign identity that governments, businesses and people will use in a payment architecture that spans the world.
  • We can implement a UBI to ensnare the developing world.

Is it really so radical (MIT Tech Review)?

Hype machines have a way of distorting the truth, something Facebook knows a thing or two about. Can Libra challenge the U.S. dollar one day as a global digital currency before central banks create blockchain versions of their own fiat currencies?

I don’t see why not, if enough powerful people want it to happen. Let’s face it, more people want Libra to win than they want Bitcoin to attain mass adoption. Richer people who already have a vested interest that Silicon Valley remains on top of China for years to come. Who might those people be, do you suppose?

The Battle Over our Digital ID and All Future Data

Mike Orcutt recently suggested that Facebook’s vision for how we manage our identifying credentials may be just as important. Alexa will collect your information forever, even Slack is doing the same. Think about what that means.

In the pivot to privacy, Facebook can also weaponize blockchain tech in a cloned cryptocurrency to be a catalyst to be the middle man for all of your digital ID credentials in the future. Imagine how much more power the digital advertising monopoly could get. (I bet you cannot imagine how much power it already has).

Let’s just give our financial, health, and social data (our very soul) to companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. Let’s just call that “AI for a better world”.

As the MIT Tech review points out, in Libra’s white paper are many hidden clues to what its true intentions are.

Your Identity will Belong to a Consortium of Powerful Corporations

The relevant passage lives near the bottom of a document meant to explain the role of the Libra Association: “An additional goal of the association is to develop and promote an open identity standard. We believe that decentralized and portable digital identity is a prerequisite to financial inclusion and competition.”

Facebook uses terms like “decentralized” to clone how crypto enthusiasts see blockchain tech empowering a better world. Facebook still wants to be the central hub of your entire life. By being the founding member of a “Libra Association” it can pretend it’s a collaborative global affair.

Here is a firm that doesn’t just want to monetize WhatsApp and Instagram better, but participate in all of the future of blockchain architecture that was supposed to be more trustworthy. The biggest bad actor of our times wants to be the central player in THAT story.

If that’s the case, we might as well put Mark’s picture on a Libra coin (see banner image) so I can send it to my grandmother, so she knows who the real king of the internet is. She is, after all, the only person I know in real life who still uses Facebook’s flagship app.

Libra is the Spirit of Collaborative Capitalism Eating the World

What is a “decentralized and portable digital identity”? In theory, it provides a way to avoid having to trust a single, centralized authority to verify and take care of our identifying credentials. For internet users, it would mean that instead of relying on Facebook or Google’s own log-in tool to provide our credentials to other websites, we could own and control them ourselves. That is, it’s not decentralized, it’s not even within our control.

  • I cannot port my friends list off of Facebook over to a competitor. (This isn’t free market capitalism on the internet).
  • A digital sovereign identity run by nodes by a Libra Association, may as well be owned by Facebook itself (or Mark).
  • Our data has been harvested and given to partners for the better part of the last two decades.

Libra doesn’t just want to be a bank, it wants to be the identity bank of the future.

The concept (sometimes called “self-sovereign identity”) is something of a holy grail in the world of internet technology, and developers have been pursuing it for years. Where IBM or Microsoft might fail, will Facebook? They don’t need consumer trust, they just need users.

The battle over all of our future data won’t just occur in the smart home by companies such as Google, Alibaba, Amazon, Xiaomi, Baidu and others, it will occur online in how our ID is verified. By monopolies such as Android (Google), Apple, Huawei (with a future OS) and Facebook. A Libra Association is how you lock us down for good. For the rest of our lives.

Facebook isn’t disruptive like Amazon, so in a world of faulty digital ethics, it can pretend and clone its way to sustainability. Mass Adoption. Blockchain empowerment. Things like that. It can pretend to be one thing, and do another. Because that’s how Mark Zuckerberg’s brain works. That’s the only thing that matters for Facebook.

For the roughly one billion people around the world without any kind of identifying credentials at all, such technology could make it possible to access financial services that they cannot today, starting with things like bank accounts and loans.

A Future of Data Banks and Digital Slavery

What if you didn’t owe the banks? You began to owe companies like Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba (Alipay), Tencent and so forth? What if they also provide things like a basic universal income for you to feel a bit better about it? This is inevitable.

Helping some of those people must be part of what Facebook meant when it said in the Libra white paper that the new system is intended to “serve as an efficient medium of exchange for billions of people around the world” and “improve access to financial services.” You can pretend to be a social good player too, and you can do it well.

You can attain regulatory approval for whatever you want, if you have the best lobbyists, lawyers and billionaire backers. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for this reason can’t be allowed to be the democratic candidate in 2020.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Facebook’s Libra. I’ve already written a dozen or more articles on it.

The idea that Facebook would use blockchain tech and a crypto clone Trojan horse to hijack our future ID credentials is not so far fetched as it sounds. This is how capitalism reinforces corporations to act. Before a time when regulation of AI or ethics even is considered serious, we live in the wild wild west of digital ethics and corporate accountability.

Libra Can Clone our Digital Sovereign Identity

For instance, there’s a chance that the digital identity will only function inside the Libra network, which one needs permission to take part in. Whereas anyone can join cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum with the right hardware and an internet connection, Libra demands that its validators be identified and approved. With over 100 powerful nodes by 2020, joining Libra will feel like a no brainer for most consumers.

It won’t feel like a private walled garden of extreme centralization. It won’t feel oppressive. They will simply kill you with convenience the Silicon Valley way.

Google, Apple and Amazon are racing for your health data as we speak.

They have no intention of compensating you for it. This is what walled gardens do, their appetite for all of your data is only gaining momentum.

Facebook has to keep up. Libra is its best chance to do so in a world that’s getting tired of Facebook’s apps and advertising deathgrip.

Bitcoin’s network is permissionless, or public, meaning that anyone with an internet connection and the right kind of computer can run the network’s software, help validate new transactions, and “mine” new coins by adding new transactions to the chain. Together these computers keep the network’s data secure from manipulation.

It’s very important to mention, Libra’s network won’t work that way. It’s just a centralized blockchain (with some rather deceptive elements of decentralized governance).

Libra Association Will Implement a Universal Basic Income That’s Global

It’s hard to rationalize that Facebook’s dishonesty in the approach is anything but corrupt profiteering — a desperate company needs to implement desperate measures. It needs to do what PayPal should have been all along in order to succeed. Lock Mark up with his most powerful friends, this is exactly the best and worst of what they came up with.

To begin with, Facebook has signed up dozens of firms — including Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, Vodafone, Spotify, eBay and dozens more in the pipeline. They won’t just bank the unbanked, they will start to offer everyone a universal basic income. This is the deal breaker play in how it will win our hearts and our data forever.

There is nothing in the white paper to suggest that they will do this, this is my speculation only. This is how startups like Harmony, Dfinity and other blockchain talent in Silicon Valley sell their soul to Libra. It’s the ultimate exploit: offer the users something they cannot resist.

That obviously runs counter to the pro-decentralization ideology popular among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. The distributed power structure of public networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum gives them a quality that many purists see as essential to any cryptocurrency: censorship resistance.

Facebook doesn’t just want to be able to censor you (in a future iteration of a social credit system), it wants to own your digital ID and all future data. The UBI play will be a quasi-social credit system where services like Uber, Lyft and others will be offered to you with a huge discount, and may end up being even “free” if you are a Libra member.

Libra is an example of how corporations band together to become more powerful than Governments, resistant to all opposition. We know in 2019, we’ve already reached that point of no return. We know companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon don’t only work with governments, so do Chinese companies in a rising technological dynasty.

Some believe the Libra Association is disruptive not because of its payment or FinServ features, but by what it represents, what it has the potential to become.

Let history prove us wrong, let’s hope Libra doesn’t go after our digital ID, become like a bank or offer a UBI. We have to imagine what we’d do if we were Mark Zuckerberg, and then it all becomes rather clear.

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FutureSin

Futurism articles bent on cultivating an awareness of exponential technologies while exploring the 4th industrial revolution.

Michael K. Spencer

Written by

Blockchain Mark Consultant, tech Futurist, prolific writer. LinkedIn: michaelkspencer

FutureSin

FutureSin

Futurism articles bent on cultivating an awareness of exponential technologies while exploring the 4th industrial revolution.