Joseph Lubin, founder of blockchain incubator ConsenSys and co-creator of Ethereum, dropped a tweetstorm praising the thousands of developers who are making progress in blockchain and cryptocurrency, actively rewriting the global financial system and rebuilding infrastructure around money, identity and data.
As big tech moves into the industry, however, he questions whether executives who control sensitive data containing private information drawn from billions of users, are attempting to aid or co-opt.
Lubin has a few words for Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, whose controversial Libra platform he believes has questionable motives, despite the overarching mission of providing unbanked and underserved people with life-changing financial services.
“First, some context: I think the #blockchain space benefits from experimentation, including the Libra project. What does not benefit the space is a Facebook-led blockchain project, led in typical Facebook style.
Facebook has a huge agenda here. They, along with the companies in the Libra Association, want to leverage its 2.3 billion global citizenry into their own monetary and payments jurisdiction, a massive business and geopolitical opportunity.
Despite what they’ve said, I expect eventually Facebook will link the deep individualized data from its advertising technology to the personal financial transactions and histories held in the Calibra wallet, just as they’ve integrated data from other platforms they’ve acquired.
Then it can derive even more value from that critical financial and spending data. This is Facebook’s core modus operandi. Facebook brings people together. It also brings all of their disparate data together into a single profile that can be optimally monetized.
Mark Zuckerberg talks about Libra in terms that are quite familiar (and validating) to the people already building blockchain systems: broadening financial inclusion and fixing a broken financial system.
How they propose to achieve that with a consortium of a few dozen mega-corporations at the helm is less clear – to say nothing of their own track record with the public’s data and privacy rights, issues many on the Committee similarly raised.
The Libra story is about dominant technology players trying to shoehorn themselves into what is going to be the future of the internet. Possibly they see the writing on the wall and want to make sure they have a seat at the table when new technologies like #blockchain take hold.
The good news is, the future I see will bring a waning dominance of the big, untrustworthy Web 2.0 companies of today. What we’re calling ‘Web3’ will be more user-centric than any previous Internet platform, putting the user, finally, at the center of the user experience.
Zuckerberg didn’t say anything today to convince me that Facebook is going to be hands-off from the Libra project, if it becomes a reality, nor that they are doing anything particularly novel to realize their stated goals.
He did not say anything concrete about how distributed ledger technology and open wallets can help achieve those goals. Important distinction: blockchain is not just #cryptocurrency. We are trying to rebuild systems around money, identity, and data.
Zuckerberg did say, ‘Our financial system has been stagnant and it’s not serving a lot of the people it needs to.’ We agree. He said he wishes that ‘other people were trying to do different things, too.’ We are.
See, for example, stablecoins such as $DAI, USDC, and USDT, which are price-stable financial instruments that have been remarkably stable even under challenging conditions.
There is already tremendous momentum with these projects and many others built on Ethereum, which has more developers than any other blockchain network. We can realize the tech’s potential much faster, and with a far healthier architecture, than Facebook has proposed for Libra.
Anyone interested in rebuilding broken financial systems and improving financial inclusion is welcome to come build and experiment with us.
Mark, instead of co-opting decentralized technology and dumbing it down, why not work on contributing to something where thousands of people are already making progress?
Let’s reject the siloed, walled garden internet of today and create a more open, decentralized internet where people have greater control over their identity and personal information and greater agency on collaboration networks. That is how we can actually empower more people.”