Facebook and Instagram parent group Meta is developing virtual currency dubbed “Zuck Bucks” by its employees, to be introduced to users of its many platforms.
The “Zuck Bucks” are being worked on as part of a suite to reduce Mark Zuckerberg’s platforms’ dependence on advertising in the so-called “metaverse” it’s developing.
According to The Guardian, Meta is developing a number of digital products in the crypto space including digital tokens and “creator coins” to diversify its user base, which is increasingly making its home on newer venues like TikTok.
Although Meta continues to retain market dominance in providing social media content, and saw its revenues rise by 37% to $118 billion in 2021 with more advertisers, TikTok is threatening its status quo. TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, has built up a massive business not dependent on advertisers and has instead opted to offer in-app purchases and e-commerce.
Similar to Twitch, TikTok allows its users to buy digital coins to send tips to their favourite creators. The coins, which are worth real money, can also be used to promote videos and profiles.
The Financial Times, which first reported the story, reported that Meta is looking for ways to further monetize its 4.9 billion monthly active users.
“This is unlikely to be a cryptocurrency based on the blockchain, some of the people said. Instead, Meta is leaning toward introducing in-app tokens that would be centrally controlled by the company, similar to those used in gaming apps such as the Robux currency in the popular children’s game Roblox,” Financial Times reported.
The company is looking to develop “social tokens” or “reputation tokens” that users can give to each other for meaningful contributions in Facebook groups. “Creator coins,” in contrast, might be associated with influencers on Instagram.
While much of its plans remain in early development, some efforts, like the integration of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into its apps are much farther along. Zuckerberg recently confirmed to the Financial Times that Instagram will soon see the integration of NFTs.
A leaked memo, also provided to the publication, suggested that Meta will launch a pilot program for posting and sharing NFTs on Facebook in mid-May, that will be “quickly followed” by allowing Facebook groups based on NFT ownership. The company is also developing a way for users to “mint” (or create) their own NFTs on the platform, which may be monetized through “fees and/or ads” in the future.
While Meta saw massive growth last year, the group lost more than $220 billion from its market valuation in February, when it revealed that users were spending more time on TikTok than on any of its platforms.