Facebook's cryptocurrency head leaves Coinbase board in sign blockchain efforts ramping up

Hannah Boland
Facebook says it is 'considering a number of different applications for the blockchain' - FR34727 AP

Facebook appears to be pushing forward with its blockchain plans, after the head of its cryptocurrency team revealed he was leaving his role at Coinbase to focus on the social network's strategy.

David Marcus said it was "appropriate" for him to resign from his role on the board of the cryptocurrency exchange "because of the new group I'm setting up at Facebook around blockchain". 

According to CoinDesk, which first reported the news on Friday, a spokesman for Facebook had said Mr Marcus made the decision to step down from the board to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Mr Marcus had only joined Coinbase's board last December, taking on the role prior to Facebook's management reshuffle in May which saw him moved from the head of Messenger to his current post, leading Facebook's blockchain technology team.

Shifting him into that role had marked a significant stepping up of Facebook's efforts with blockchain, a secure digital ledger which uses a network of computers to verify each transaction.  

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It came on the back of comments made by Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook boss, earlier this year that he would be "interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies [such as encryption and cryptocurrency], and how best to use them in our services". 

Although it is not yet known how Facebook will use the technology, it is thought that there may have been similarities in the work being carried out by Facebook and Coinbase. 

A Facebook spokesman said: "We are still in the very early stages and we are considering a number of different applications for the blockchain. But we don’t have anything else to share at this time."

Rumours emerged earlier this year that Facebook may be considering launching its own digital coin, after it banned cryptocurrency adverts from the social network, saying such adverts were "frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices".

However, some have warned this could be too risky for Facebook and could easily destroy its brand value.