Facebook Makes First Blockchain Acquisition

Facebook has taken another step towards its blockchain interests, with its first acquisition in the blockchain space. According to reports, the social media company has quietly hired the brains behind Chainspace – a blockchain start-up founded by researchers of the University College, London.

Chainspace had before now been building a decentralized smart contract system that could facilitate payments and services via blockchain technology. The move by Facebook is the clearest sign of Facebook’s intent to become a big player in the emerging blockchain technology industry.

This acquisition also continues further activity by Facebook in the blockchain space, with the company gathering a team of blockchain and crypto-related staff to form the Facebook Blockchain Group headed by former PayPal President David Marcus. The group has been functional though private about its projects since last year.

A view of the Chainspace whitepaper outlines the team’s goal to build a “blockchain platform of high intergrity for transparent and speedy processing of transactions within a decentralized system”, with a view to improve its functionality over traditional financial platforms like Visa. Chainspace also pitches the use of blockchain for non-payment systems like polling (voting/elections).

Further confirmation of the acqui-hire is seen in the bio of four of the five Chainspace researchers with its white paper authors Alberto Sonnino and George Danezis both recently updating their LinkedIn profiles as to reflect –  Blockchain Researchers for Facebook(FB) London office.

Noticeably, weeks before now the Chainspace Website was updated to say the team is “moving on to something new” just as close associates to the start-up opine that they may shut down now that Facebook has hired most of its employees.

One of Facebook’s spokesperson however revealed very little details of the acquisition; in his words:

Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications…We don’t have anything further to share.

Facebook has been previously linked with creating its own cryptocurrency in a bid to enable its billions of users make electronic payments, including recent news around its development of a U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin for similarly acquired app, WhatsApp. The social media giant has also been recruiting blockchain and cryptocurrrency academia, engineers and other experts with experience in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

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