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Facebook unbans bitcoin ads in huge boost for crypto industry

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With billions of users worldwide, Facebook has the power to bring cryptocurrency well and truly into the mainstream (iStock/The Independent)
With billions of users worldwide, Facebook has the power to bring cryptocurrency well and truly into the mainstream (iStock/The Independent)

Meta, formerly called Facebook, has reversed its ban on cryptocurrency ads across its platforms.

The move will give bitcoin exchanges, wallets and other crypto companies access to more than 3 billion people around the world who use the firm’s various platforms, which include Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook itself.

Follow our live coverage of the crypto market

The ban was originally introduced in January 2018 in an effort to prohibit “misleading or deceptive promotional practices” like initial coin offerings (ICOs), which spiked in popularity during the crypto market rally of 2017/18.

Since then, the cryptocurrency industry has evolved considerably, with milestones including the first crypto exchange to go public through Coinbase’s Nasdaq listing, El Salvador becoming the first country in the world to recognise bitcoin as legal tender, and massive corporate investment in cryptocurrency through companies like MicroStrategy, SpaceX and Tesla.

“We’re doing this because the cryptocurrency landscape has continued to mature and stabilise in recent years and has seen more government regulations that are setting clearer rules for their industry,” Meta said in a statement.

“This change will help make our policy more equitable and transparent and allow for a greater number of advertisers, including small businesses, to use our tools and grow their business.”

The policy update follows the social media giant’s decision to pivot towards the metaverse, which will likely support some form of cryptocurrency payments and other blockchain-based technologies like non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The news also comes just one day after Facebook executive David Marcus announced his departure from the tech giant, having failed in his attempt to launch the Libra and then Diem cryptocurrency.

The crypto project faced resistance from lawmakers and regulators in Europe and the US, however the company was able to release a digital wallet called Novi in October under Mr Marcus’s guidance.

“While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of launching Novi – and I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems – my entrepreneurial DNA has been nudging me for too many mornings in a row to continue ignoring it,” he wrote on Twitter when announcing his decision to quit.

“I find comfort and confidence in knowing that they will continue to execute our important mission well under [new Novi leader] Stephane Kasriel’s leadership, and I can’t wait to witness this from the outside. I know there’s greatness ahead.”

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