Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Silicon Money: a critical analysis of Facebook's digital money Libra

LAKOMSKI-LAGUERRE Odile, University of Picardie Jules Verne

The GAFAMs have today become firms with considerable financial power and capable to dominate the world trade. It was only a matter of time before these players aspired to create their own currency, in order to have total control over online trade and commerce. The design of digital currencies is not a new ambition or only a fad of megalomaniac entrepreneurs who want to provoke states: it is above all the necessary instrument of an economy based on the exchange of information goods, with Internet becoming its characteristic economic form. The Facebook project with the announcement for 2020 of the Libra currency goes in this direction. We propose here, in a critical political economy approach, to deconstruct the discourses mobilized by Facebook and its partners to sell the Libra project and highlight the ambitions and strategies that are really at work. Our approach will therefore try to understand these new digital currencies, in that they participate in the dynamics of a capitalism which, under radically new appearances, nevertheless proceeds according to the same logic: that which consists for companies, in the prospect of a profit-seeking, to shape the preferences of the consumers and to standardize them in order to ensure a certain outlet for their products and services. This does not exclude, in spite of everything, from stressing the new institutional forms, the new power relations implied by capitalism, which is being built today. Because money is fundamentally a social institution, it will also involve questioning the conditions for broad acceptance and dissemination of these new payment instruments, that is to say, the capacities of these digital currencies to create a coherent monetary order.


Keywords: Libra, Facebook, Digital Currency, Informational capitalism, Blockchain.

Il paper è coperto da copyright.