insanely great™️
April 7, 2022 4:20 AM   Subscribe

Facebook’s financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, has been exploring the creation of a virtual currency for the metaverse, which employees internally have dubbed “Zuck Bucks”, according to several people familiar with the efforts. This is unlikely to be a cryptocurrency based on the blockchain, some of the people said. 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. Facebook owner Meta targets finance with ‘Zuck Bucks’ and creator coins [Financial Times; unpaywalled] posted by chavenet (43 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
If only there were another rhyming word which I could place in front of "Zuck Bucks" to express my reaction to this news.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:37 AM on April 7 [68 favorites]


How long until Amazon starts making their own scrip, and "optionally" paying employees with it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:42 AM on April 7 [25 favorites]


This really needs to be illegal!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:00 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I think the real thing to watch is if these ZuxBux can convert back to real currency, and I'd bet a donut that it won't.

A decade ago I had a group of colleagues run off and work on "social gaming" apps (translation: online slot machines) for Facebook in the hope that Facebook Credits would soon be convertible, which would allow for unregulated interstate gambling on FB's platform. It didn't happen and they all wound up working on crappy Farmville clones.

Roblox doesn't allow gambling with dollars and/or robux on their system either.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:14 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


>How long until Amazon starts making their own scrip, and "optionally" paying employees with it.
This is about Meta, not Amazon, but the VC channel for tech disruptors has a phase of 'paid in equity' where you lose everything if the startup dies and you lose most of it on a stock split that prefers founders and VC funders.

>Roblox doesn't allow gambling with dollars and/or robux on their system either.
Roblox doesn't explicitly allow gambling but there are USA States' Gambling Commissions looking into regulating loot boxes and flair items (in which Roblox has a thriving economy) as unregulated gambling. Roblox previously and previouslier.
posted by k3ninho at 5:29 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


I knew it... I've told this story before, but I teach high school math and there's a group of kids who like to hang out in my room at lunch and use the computers. They're going on roblox. All of them!

As soon as the "meta" project was announced I knew it was a play to lure these Roblox-playing kids onto the Facebook system. And also to make the same kind of money that Roblox makes, too.
posted by subdee at 5:47 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


Roblox doesn't allow gambling with dollars and/or robux on their system either.

As k3ninho’s links point out, exploitation of child labor and knowingly exposing children to harassment by sketchy older men is… worse.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:55 AM on April 7 [10 favorites]


Zuck Bucks

I surprised Bezos Pesos aren't a thing already.

And I'm kind of glad that this web3 hellscape doesn't have names as awful as flooz and beenz, but I guess we're still early.
posted by msbrauer at 5:58 AM on April 7 [38 favorites]


Patrick & Adam from the infosec podcast Risky Business have observed many times that the "crypto bros" are steadily inching closer and closer to simply re-inventing banks. This week's story about yet another cryptowallet theft had them shaking their heads yet again.

Zuckerberg clearly think he's smarter than everyone else, but if Meta goes forward with this plan then he, too, will preside over a series of embarrassing-yet-educational snafus that result in users losing their money.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of Meta's users, it will likely be borne mostly by Old People, for whom I have far more sympathy than I do for sweaty crypto bros.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:10 AM on April 7 [6 favorites]


Bezos Pesos

Flagged as fantastic, once I could see through the tears I wept.
posted by notoriety public at 6:24 AM on April 7 [15 favorites]


that the "crypto bros" are steadily inching closer and closer to simply re-inventing banks.

Well, it is still lovely schadenfreude when you see one having a whinge about falling victim to some scam that was regulated out of existence in the nineteenth century (and probably just known about since the before the first). "You debased my coin? How can that be? Surely a coin is a base, or something, right? *sotto voce* What's does 'base' mean? Is that not the same? Oh, no..."
posted by pompomtom at 6:35 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


They really thought Libra was going to replace all other currencies and they're not giving up on that dream.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:51 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


They're doing Second Life again, so of course they're doing Linden dollars again.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:54 AM on April 7 [14 favorites]


Honestly, I'd rather have a system based on Minecraft Diamonds. Twenty minutes of virtual mining, there's your proof of work. IT would be pretty trivial to turn that into some sort of blockchain leger. I'm sure someone has already thought of this, and I'm glad Mojang/MS has decided to avoid even the slightest whiff of it.

Seriously, Minecraft is IMO the only virtual environment that's succeeded in being ubiquitous.
posted by bonehead at 7:11 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I was rewatching Adult Swim's infomercial For Profit Online University last night and was struck by how well it lampoons web 3 for having been made in 2014. I guess that's because they haven't made any of it better since then?
posted by little onion at 7:11 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


This week's story about yet another cryptowallet theft had them shaking their heads yet again.

Just a reminder that web3isgoinggreat.com is updating stories daily.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:36 AM on April 7 [17 favorites]


>> How long until Amazon starts making their own scrip, and "optionally" paying employees with it.

> This really needs to be illegal!

Isn't it already illegal?? I thought we already legislated this out following the robber baron era when corps would build company towns and pay their laborers in company coupons that could only be used at the company store etc. There is literally a law on the books that says employers cannot pay in any currency but US dollars. Benefit packages for employees are regulated to adhere to limitations because of this.

Please tell me I'm not making this up? I could swear I read a book about it a couple of decades ago.

I'm not so convinced that Meta will fail, though. I've seen too many damnfool ideas on the internet go on to become fixtures of modern life to scoff. (I remember laughing at iPads. I remember scoffing at Netflix becoming a streaming platform.) These guys always know something I don't. Sigh.
posted by MiraK at 7:49 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


Isn't it already illegal?

The most well-trod path to Web3 riches right now is "take something that would be illegal if you did it with real money, do it with pretend money and sell people the pretend money for real money".
posted by mhoye at 7:56 AM on April 7 [31 favorites]


Don't forget the plain brazen out the illegality like air BNB or Uber.
posted by Mitheral at 7:58 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


"Would you like to buy some Itchy and Scratchy Money?"
posted by eckeric at 8:20 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


I'd just like to remind everybody that Facebook has created precisely 1 successful product, bought a few others to keep them from competing with itself, failed to pivot to video a few times, and failed at most of its other endeavors. I have full trust in their ability to zuck this up as well.
posted by signal at 8:43 AM on April 7 [7 favorites]


failed to pivot to video a few times

Unless you count the devastation wrought on the media landscape by them pushing the “pivot to video” as a success.
posted by acb at 8:46 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I’m sure this initiative will never get anywhere. Banking and money are built on trust and no one trusts Facebook.
posted by interogative mood at 9:13 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I think the real thing to watch is if these ZuxBux can convert back to real currency, and I'd bet a donut that it won't.

All the game ecosystems use virtual currencies and that are not convertible back to avoid becoming banks or credit compagnies and being regulated as such. I guess Meta/Facebook has the resources to handle being regulated as a bank, but I'm pretty sure they don't want to.

Isn't it already illegal?? I thought we already legislated this out following the robber baron era when corps would build company towns and pay their laborers in company coupons that could only be used at the company store etc. There is literally a law on the books that says employers cannot pay in any currency but US dollars.

I also think this is illegal, but IANAL. But I'm pretty sure that doing it ONLY this way would not work, because if those have any values they're taxable benefits and that means you have to pay taxes on it and the US gov is probably not about to accept Bezos Pesos, Zuck Bucks, RoxBoxs, VBucks, Amazon Giftcards or anything else than US Dollars.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:14 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


All the game ecosystems use virtual currencies and that are not convertible back to avoid becoming banks or credit compagnies

Doesn't need to be officially convertible, really. As long as you can buy and sell them on external exchanges you can swap them for dollars. That's how the Linden dollar or Robux or WoW gold have USD exchange rates.

I don't think ZuckBucks would be any different than Robux etc?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:47 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I'm sure they'll find whatever hair they need to split to satisfy the legal requirement to pay people in dollars while ensuring that most people will opt-in to some sort of automatic conversion to Zuck Bucks.

There are already employers who pay their employees in re-loadable payroll cards because it's supposedly "easier" than issuing checks or direct deposit. Although these cards can be used to make purchases wherever debit or credit cards are accepted, they can be very difficult to transfer money from so that most people will just use them as their regular bank account. And surprise! They have terrible interest rates, and onerous fees!
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:51 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


What's the exchange rate between ZuckBucks and BezosPesos? Is there any correlation to ShruteBucks and StanleyNickels? Unicorns to Leprechauns? Unicoins? Leprechcoins? I for one am excited by the currency arbitrage opportunities.

:/
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 10:29 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


That's how the Linden dollar or Robux or WoW gold have USD exchange rates.

Third party exchanges have been verboten for a long time in Second Life. And Linden Lab has made significant changes to comply with regulations including a pre-emptive ban on gacha games, and the establishment of the Tilia subsidiary: "a licensed money transmitter and registered money services business. Tilia is a subsidiary of Linden Lab that was formed in order to provide certain financial services to the Second Life Community in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations through its product, Tilia Pay." BTW, SL residents cashed out over $50 million USD last year, all on the books.

The optimist in me hopes Tilia will grow into a conduit for money less beholden to puritanical corporate interests but I would, sadly, not be surprised to see it swallowed up by one of these larger players.
posted by Lorin at 10:43 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Yuck: Amuck Schmuck Zuck's Bucks Suck
posted by The Tensor at 11:05 AM on April 7 [9 favorites]


The most well-trod path to Web3 riches right now is "take something that would be illegal if you did it with real money, do it with pretend money and sell people the pretend money for real money".

When Orwell gave us a picture of the future being a boot stamping on a human face, forever, I didn't realize he was predicting NFTs - i.e., a virtual picture of a boot stamping on a human face, monetized.
posted by nubs at 11:46 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]



"Would you like to buy some Itchy and Scratchy Money?"

It works just like regular money, but it's fun.

posted by credulous at 12:02 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]


I'm not so convinced that Meta will fail, though. I've seen too many damnfool ideas on the internet go on to become fixtures of modern life to scoff.

Shoot, this is exactly what I was thinking when I first saw The Facebook, somewhere within the first year of it opening up to EDU email addresses. I remember being stunned and outright horrified and clearly thinking it wasn't going to end well.

I was working at a university at the time in IT and of course it was the creepiest coworker there that found it first and introduced it to our office. And spent most of his time ogling college aged women 10-15 years his junior because he was gross like that.

These are the real roots and popularity of Facebook, too. It was HotorNot with social links. It was initially used by relatively pretty, rich and/or popular college kids kind of the way kids use SnapChat, WhatsApp, Discord and so on, today. To hook up, party, find peer groups.

I also felt this about Friendster, MySpace and other earlier social networks, but those were relatively fun at the time, if also often toxic and filled with horrible drama if you were of the right vulnerable age and demographic to take it too seriously.

I remember thinking this when I saw the first banner ad on HotBot.

I've been yelling and ranting about all of this - Facebook in particular - since the beginning, ever since the day I describe above when I first saw The Facebook in a browser.
posted by loquacious at 12:21 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]


There's a sucker minted every minute.
posted by ryanrs at 5:34 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


The real question will the first buck be framed.
posted by clavdivs at 7:16 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


on a wall
posted by clavdivs at 7:17 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I'm watching this with great interest; after a first failed attempt looking at puffery for my LLM, my second failure was attempting to build something around a growing number of legal cases (at the time) attempting to regulate loot boxes in video games, where most of the legal arguments were built around gambling and entirely predicated on the use of third-party services to translate digital game assets into real currency.

I eventually abandoned it, partly because it was way more complicated than anything I could really tackle at the time (a lot of international law following European bans, contract law in both the U.S. and Canada and several foreign jurisdictions), but that general state of digital -> real currency is still very interesting, and may revive my interest in loot box legislation with a narrower scope if there are gambling-type artifacts in the "Metaverse" (anything that produces in-world assets randomly where real-world currency can pay for the digital-world purchase of a chance-driven process that creates objects "of value" in the digital world).
posted by Shepherd at 2:32 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


I am all in on getting some Zuck Bucks. And by Zuck Bucks I mean the class action settlement for Facebook violating the Illinois Biometric privacy law. Should be a sweet 7 or 8 hundreds bucks for my wife and I.
posted by srboisvert at 10:58 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


How long until Amazon starts making their own scrip, and "optionally" paying employees with it.

About another 18 Bezycles, at most.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:40 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Meta to take nearly half of sales made by its metaverse creators as fees
Facebook parent Meta Platforms (FB.O) will charge creators around 47.5% on sales of digital assets and experiences made inside the company's virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds.

The overall charge comprises of 30% hardware platform fee for sales made through Meta Quest Store, where it sells apps and games meant for its virtual reality headsets, and a further 17.5% cut as its Horizon platform fees, a Meta spokesperson told Reuters on Wednesday.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:13 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I'd seriously consider rebranding MetaFilter so we don't get negative karma by association with the clusterzuck I 100% expect Meta to be in the near future.
posted by signal at 3:55 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Why should we change? He's the one who sucks.
posted by Mitheral at 6:30 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: the Meta that doesn't suck
posted by Meatbomb at 12:22 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: be less evil
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:05 PM on April 29


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