Mark Zuckerberg is looking to develop virtual coins, nicknamed “Zuck bucks” by staff, for users of Facebook and Instagram as part of a suite of products designed to reduce his platforms’ dependence on advertising in the future metaverse.
Facebook’s parent group, Meta, is looking to develop a range of virtual products – including digital tokens and “creator coins” – to diversify income and revitalise its user base, which is increasingly turning to newer rivals such as TikTok.
While Meta remains the dominant social media network provider – its revenues rose 37% to $118bn in 2021 as advertisers clamoured to reach the 4.9 billion monthly active users of Facebook and Instagram – TikTok has also built up a massive non-ads business based on in-app purchases and e-commerce.
Meta, which has proven quick to ape successful products rolled out by rivals such as Snapchat, is now exploring ways to further monetise its user base, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the story.
Products being looked at include “social tokens” or “reputation tokens”, which could be used as rewards by users. It is also looking at “creator coins”, which could be used by influencers on Instagram.
Like Amazon’s Twitch, TikTok uses a tipping system whereby fans can buy its coins to then buy gifts to give to their favourite creators. Creators can also buy coins to use tools such as Promote to boost a TikTok video’s profile, increasing viewers or followers.
The initiatives, led by Facebook’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, follow the company’s ill-fated foray into attempting to create a global cryptocurrency, a project called Libra and later Diem, which was abandoned earlier this year after issues with US regulators.
That was not the first time Facebook had looked to move into the world of virtual finance. In 2009 it launched Facebook Credits to facilitate in-app purchases in then highly popular games such as Zynga’s FarmVille. While successful, it was shut four years later after Facebook’s international growth made for costly foreign currency conversions.
Meta is also looking to enter the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with plans to allow their integration into Instagram and Facebook.
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