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Facebook Shows It Doesn’t Need Bitcoin to Be Rich

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Feb. 12 2018, Updated 7:37 a.m. ET

Square supports bitcoin buying and selling

While Twitter’s (TWTR) cousin Square (SQ) introduced a way for some of its users to buy and sell bitcoin on its platform last year, Facebook (FB) is not following—at least not now. Twitter and Square share CEO Jack Dorsey.

Shortly before it released its 4Q17 earnings, Facebook updated its policies governing advertising practices, banning all ads promoting cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The company linked the decision to ban cryptocurrency commercials to its efforts to protect users—in this case, protecting them against investment fraud.

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Over 5.7 billion monthly users on Facebook properties

Facebook’s social media platforms, which include Messenger and WhatsApp, host over 5.7 billion monthly users collectively. Facebook’s Messenger is more than a social app. It also has a peer-to-peer (or P2P) payment feature that allows users to send money to friends and family right within the app. In the mobile P2P payment market, Messenger is battling for market share against Square, PayPal (PYPL), and Snap (SNAP).

Square has bitcoin support, PayPal has signaled that it may expand its bitcoin integration, and Messenger could follow these rivals with cryptocurrency integration of its own. However, in a recent interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, Messenger CEO David Marcus said that there were currently no plans to bring cryptocurrency payment support to the app.

Cryptocurrency is slow and expensive

While Facebook has banned cryptocurrency ads over scams, Messenger has not jumped on the cryptocurrency wagon because it’s expensive and slow, according to Marcus. Facebook serves ads on Messenger, and P2P payment support is one feature that drives app usage.

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