The recent leaks were correct: music-streaming Spotify is on board as one of the first backers of Facebook’s new Libra cryptocurrency.
The social network will launch the cryptocurrency in 2020, complete with a wallet developed by Facebook’s new Calibra subsidiary. And backing all this is The Libra Association, which Facebook says will be an independent, not-for-profit organisation.
Spotify is one of that body’s founding ‘technology and marketplaces’ partners, alongside the likes of eBay, Uber and Lyft, with MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and Stripe among the partners in its ‘payments’ category.
“From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as you might send a text message and at low to no cost. And, in time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass,” is Facebook’s pitch for Libra.
Spotify has published its own blog post explaining why it’s getting involved, too.
“Libra offers massive opportunity for simple, convenient, and safe payment over the internet (particularly for the 1.7 billion adults worldwide without access to mobile money, a bank account, or a payment card). We’ve seen this directly in many of the developing markets where we operate,” explained the post.
Spotify’s chief premium business officer Alex Norström supplies a quote offering more detail:
“One challenge for Spotify and its users around the world has been the lack of easily accessible payment systems – especially for those in financially underserved markets,” he said. “This creates an enormous barrier to the bonds we work to foster between creators and their fans. In joining the Libra Association, there is an opportunity to better reach Spotify’s total addressable market, eliminate friction and enable payments in mass scale.”
So, for now this appears to be more about listeners paying for Spotify, than about Spotify using blockchain/crypto technology to pay artists directly – although one expert in the field, Ujo adviser Simon de la Rouviere, sees that as a possibility too:
Because paying multiple artists across the globe, royalties, is what crypto is good for.
— Simon de la Rouviere (@simondlr) June 14, 2019
It’s very early days for Calibra / Libra, but as the sole music service involved from day one, Spotify will have a close-up view of how the project develops, and how the resulting technology could be used in its business.