Just what are Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Zuck Bucks’?

Meta is exploring “social tokens” or “reputation tokens,” which could be issued as rewards for meaningful contributions in Facebook groups. PHOTO/ META

Meta is working to develop virtual coins-  “Zuck bucks”, and non-fungible tokens as part of a suite of its products designed to reduce the  platforms’ dependence on advertising in the future metaverse.

Facebook’s mother, Meta, is planning to introduce a range of virtual products – including digital tokens and “creator coins” – to diversify income and vivify its user base, which is increasingly being eaten into by TikTok.

But just what are ‘Zuck Bucks’?

Zuck Bucks, seemingly named for Meta founder, chairman, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, are “unlikely” to be a cryptocurrency.

“Instead, Meta is leaning towards introducing in-app tokens that would be centrally controlled by the company, similar to those used in gaming apps such as the Robux currency in popular children’s game Roblox,” according to the FT

Roblox has built a huge business selling Robux, and Meta could try to emulate some of that success on its own platforms.

Meta hasn’t totally distanced itself from blockchain products, as the company is also looking into posting and sharing NFTs on Facebook.

The FT says the company plans to launch a pilot for doing just that in mid-May, according to a memo, and soon after, Meta will test allowing “membership of Facebook groups based on NFT ownership and another for minting” NFTs.

The FT previously reported on some of Meta’s NFT plans for Facebook and Instagram in January, and Zuckerberg announced in March that NFTs would be coming to Instagram.

Meta is exploring “social tokens” or “reputation tokens,” which “could be issued as rewards for meaningful contributions in Facebook groups, for example,” the FT reports. The company is also apparently looking into traditional financial services like small business loans.

“We have no updates to share today,” Meta spokesperson Lauren Dickson said in a statement to The Verge.

“We continuously consider new product innovations for people, businesses, and creators. As a company, we are focused on building for the metaverse and that includes what payments and financial services might look like.”

We’ll have to wait and see how Zuck Bucks or other rumored projects pan out and if they can help Meta overcome some of its recent troubles. But one high-profile person appears to be a big fan of Facebook’s plans: former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

As a company, we are focused on building for the metaverse”

Regardless of Meta remaining the dominant social media network provider globally – its revenues rose 37% to $118bn in 2021 as advertisers clamored to reach the 4.9 billion monthly active users of Facebook and Instagram – TikTok has also established a huge non-ads business based on in-app purchases and e-commerce.

Meta is now looking for ways to monetise its user base more than before.

Products being looked at include “social tokens” or “reputation tokens”, which could be used as rewards by users. It is also looking at “creator coins”, which could be used by influencers on Instagram.

TikTok uses a tipping system whereby fans can buy its coins to then buy gifts to give to their favourite creators. Creators can also buy coins to use tools such as Promote to boost a TikTok video’s profile, increasing viewers or followers.

The initiatives, led by Facebook’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, follow the company’s ill-fated foray into attempting to create a global cryptocurrency, a project called Libra and later Diem, which was abandoned earlier this year after issues with US regulators.

That was not the first time Facebook had looked to move into the world of virtual finance. In 2009 it launched Facebook Credits to facilitate in-app purchases in the then highly popular games such as Zynga’s FarmVille. While successful, it was shut four years later after Facebook’s international growth made for costly foreign currency conversions.

Meta is also looking to enter the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with plans to allow their integration into Instagram and Facebook.

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