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Libra – Facebook Token – Calibra Wallet

It seems that gloves are off for established companies to enter the “token economy”. What has so far been a playground for super nerds, crypto-anarchists, and speculators has now officially taken its next big step. We have finally moved away from buzzwords like “blockchain” and “smart contracts” with companies and government playing around sandboxes with prototypes. The game is becoming more serious as tech giants like Facebook are starting to tokeninze the economy .

Facebook, a Web2 based social network with almost 2.4 billion active users, has recently announced a move into the Web3. The media is referring to this move as “Facebook launching a cryptocurrency”. The reality is more complex. Facebook is planning to launch its own distributed ledger, which will manage a native token – Libra – and the Calibra wallet. It is to be assumed that through the backdoor of this wallet the company is making a move to rule the future of providing global “sovereign digital identities” .  Facebook users will be able to use Libra Tokens for online purchases and P2P remittances through that wallet for “low to no” fees. The whitepaper indicates that Libra, a stable token, which is backed by various fiat currencies.

The token could be a serious competition for fin-tech providers and credit card companies, which charge merchants as much as 2.5 percent or more on purchases. It could furthermore compete with money transfer companies that many immigrants all over the world use to send funds to friends and family in their home countries. Key elements of the Libra Network:

Infrastructure Federated distributed ledger, which does use a “chain of blocks” as a security mechanism. Security is provided by legal contracts between know actors of that federated network.

Consensus & Data Structure The Libra is a permissioned distributed ledger. The protocol does not account for a blockchain data structure. A time-stamped chain of blocks, however, is very important with permissionless networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum, where validators can join and leave the network any time. Libra runs a permissioned system, which can use a more efficient consensus algorithm that doesn’t need to batch transactions because the transaction history is much less likely to be rewritten in a setup of trusted network actors. Libra uses a tweaked version of Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT), a seasoned and well-known algorithm. The  LibraBFT, which seems to be a fork of the HotStuff consensus protocol .

Smart Contracts The Libra network is designed with smart contract capabilities. “Move” is the native smart contracting language. The question of whether it makes sense to create a new language is unresolved. It is still unclear how feature-rich and developer-friendly the language is. Both aspects would influence issues of smart contract security and network resilience. Similar to Ethereum, Libra smart contracts will require network payments for running code. This means that all operations require payment of Libra as network transaction fees.

Governance of the Network As a permissioned ledger, only members of the network can validate transactions.  “Founding Members are organizations with established reputations, making it unlikely that they would act maliciously,” the white paper states. These are entities range from traditional payment networks (Mastercard, Visa) to internet and gig-economy giants (eBay, Lyft) to blockchain natives (Xapo) to VCs (Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital)…”. Other participating node range from NPOs to Paypal, Uber, Women’s World Banking, Mercy Corps, etc. The Libra Association, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with almost 30 stakeholders so far. A supermajority of 2/3 is required to make changes. If validators vote on changes to the validator set, this could result in “long-range attacks”. The question is whether an attacker could write a new ledger history, If a sufficient threshold of founding members’ private keys is compromised, and if other nodes would accept it. Apparently, there is the plan to transition from Association (federation) to a Proof-of-Stake based public network within the first 5 years.

Fees The Calibra Wallet FAQ announces low transaction fees. The question is whether they can hold the promise at times of high load.

Will Libra really be open to developers? In their plan to transition to a permissionless network they are planning to make the network open to everyone: “any consumer, developer, or business can use the Libra network, build products on top of it, and add value through their services. Open access ensures low barriers to entry and innovation and encourages healthy competition that benefits consumers”.

Collateralized Stable Token – Libra The Libra token is not a “purpose-driven token” minted upon proof-of-contribution to the network. It is a simple asset-collateralized stable token. Similar to other asset-collateralized stable tokens like Tether, tokens will be issued and burned on a regular basis, to respond to demand shifts for its reserve and keep the exchange rate stable. This is a prerequisite for any token to be useful as a medium of exchange, and a big upside to other tokens like Bitcoin, that do not have inbuilt price-stability mechanisms.

Privacy In the white paper it is stated that “The Libra protocol does not link accounts to a real-world identity. A user is free to create multiple accounts by generating multiple key-pairs. Accounts controlled by the same user have no inherent link to each other.” This pseudonymity for users is similar to how Bitcoin and Ethereum work. The Calibra wallet , however, requires that all users will be verified via government-issued ID. It is unclear if one can run other wallet applications on the Libra network that don’t abide by  same AML/KYC requirements.

On-chain Governance Similar to Tezos the protocol it is subject to revision. Founding members hold Libra investment tokens, which give them voting rights on the network. They can use them to  vote on governance changes. Updates will be essential for adding new members, and transitioning from LibraBFT to Proof-of-Stake.

Disposable Ledger Similar to Coda the ledger is disposable . Users only need to hold a proof of the last block, which they can easily check on a lean device like a smartphone, to make sure they are interacting with a valid ledger. This is important feature since historical data may over time grow beyond the amount that can be handled by an individual server, or small device.

Developer Team The Libra white paper is signed by over fifty people from all over the world, amoung others from the field of computer science and artificial intellegence, amoung others: Christian Catalini , Ben Maurer, George Danezis , François Garillot , Ramnik Arora , and many more.


The Libra token cannot be compared to Bitcoin or other native protocol tokens of permissionless blockchain networks as it (i) builds on a federated solution, which means that it is not permissionless; (ii) most likely will have rigorous KYC/AML requirements. On an upside, the permissioned infrastructure allows for higher (i) scalability; (ii) facebook already has a user base of over 2 billion people, which will make tokens mass market compatible with a user-friendly wallet, as Facebook has enough developer power to make much-needed wallet usability happen. Furthermore, for better or worse, Libra has the potential to become a shadow bank , at least to the 2 Billion unbanked worldwide. The problem is that it might not be as sovereign as the libra association pretends it will become in the long run. This is more likely an attempt to move into two new industries through the backdoor of Web3 wallets – identities and banking. Given the fact the Facebook, next to Google is the biggest ad-tech provider, the Libra token could furthermore be used to incentivize future advertising consumption, similar to what the Basic Attention Toke (BAT) is trying to do, reversing the roles in a highly intermediated advertising industry.

Further Reading

Libra White Paper: Code repository: “How Will Facebook’s Libra “Blockchain” Really Work? An expert guide to the social media company’s foray into cryptocurrency”, Jameson Lopp, Jun 18, 2019: “Libra White Paper Shows How Facebook Borrowed From Bitcoin and Ethereum”, Brady Dale, Jun 18, 2019: “Facebook’s Libra Token: What Blockchain Insiders are Saying Industry experts weigh in after Facebook announces entrance to blockchain space”, Jun 19, 2018: “Facebook Libra Backlash on Many Fronts”, Michael K. Spencer, Jun 19, 2019: Binance Research, June, 2019: “Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters”, June 19th, 2019: “Tokenize the Enterprise …And Melt It Into the Community. Rinse, Repeat”, Trent McConaghy, Jun 6, 2017:

About the Author

Shermin Voshmgir is the Author of the Book “ Token Economy “. She is the director of the Research Institute for Cryptoconomics at the Vienna University of Economics, and the founder of BlockchainHub Berlin. In the past, she was a curator of TheDAO, and advisor to various startups like Jolocom, Wunder and the Estonian E-residency program. In addition to her studies at the Vienna University of Economics, she studied film and drama in Madrid. Her past work experience ranges from Internet startups, research & art. She is Austrian, with Iranian roots, and lives between Vienna and Berlin.
The post Libra – Facebook Token – Calibra Wallet appeared first on BlockchainHub . shares this Contents always with License.

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