Meta’s team appears to be working on an in-app virtual currency nicknamed “Zuck Bucks.” According to Meta employees who spoke to Financial times† these new tokens can be released on Facebook and Instagram soon.
There are no specific details on how these tokens will work, but Financial times reporters compared them to “Robux” in the popular metaverse game Roblox. It is also clear that Meta will not use blockchain technology to create its virtual currency. Unlike a decentralized cryptocurrency, Meta will manage these new in-app tokens.
The most recent reports of the “Zuck Buck” rumors suggest there will be three different digital currencies, two on Facebook and one on Instagram. Facebook users will soon be able to earn ‘social tokens’ and ‘reputation tokens’, while Instagram users can look forward to ‘creator tokens’.
There seem to be two main goals behind Meta’s new digital currency project. First, the company wants to experiment with revenue streams that have nothing to do with advertising. Currently, Meta relies almost entirely on advertising to generate money. Some reports suggest that Meta gets as much as 97.9 percent of its revenue from advertisers.
As the company noted in its February earnings call, it is in danger of losing $10 billion in ad revenue as a result of Apple’s new iOS privacy features. While Meta continues to generate the highest returns in the social media industry, executives are wary of relying heavily on ads, especially as apps like TikTok gain traction.
Another reason Meta may be turning to digital currencies is to experiment with “decentralized governance.” While Meta is still in control, users can have more say in what type of content is displayed by “voting” with their tokens. This greater influence can create new incentives and increase user engagement on Facebook and Instagram.
Meta sees Web3 as an opportunity for profitability
Those familiar with Meta’s history are probably not shocked by the news of the “Zuck Bucks” project. Years before the rebrand to Meta, Facebook showed an interest in creating digital currencies and new payment solutions. Most famously, the social media company developed a stablecoin called “Diem” until the US government shut down in early 2022.
Longtime Facebook users may also remember the “Facebook Credits” program. Facebook was introduced in 2009 and created Credits to help FarmVille players easily purchase virtual items. At its peak, Facebook Credits brought in 16 percent of the company’s revenue. However, as the social media site became increasingly global, executives said currency conversion fees are putting too much of a strain on this service.
Shortly before news of Meta’s “Zuck Bucks” leaked to the press, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to bring NFTs to Instagram. Reports from the Financial times also suggest that Meta is working on integrating NFTs into Facebook from May.
Some reporters speculate that these NFTs will be used as “virtual tickets” for various Facebook groups. There are also rumors that Meta is interested in letting WhatsApp and Messenger users exchange NFTs.
While Meta’s dreams about Diem may be dead, that certainly hasn’t diminished Meta’s interest in using Web3 to his advantage.