After banning, then last month unbanning, ads for cryptocurrency, Facebook’s imminent entry into the world of digital currency is likely to be a watershed moment for the concept, says one Australian expert.

Today, Facebook is set to release a cryptocurrency project called Libra, built on an eponymous blockchain and backed by a basket of fiat currencies to provide stability and global acceptance.

The idea is to create a global currency with the associated financial infrastructure.

Apollo Capital chief investment officer Henrik Andersson, who is focused on putting money into crypto and digital assets, says it could be a watershed moment because has the potential to bring “hundreds of millions of people” into a crypto ecosystem and introduce them to a digital currency for the first time.

Facebook has 2.38 billion active monthly users.

Bitcoin is up 1 per cent today, but has surged back from its earlier slump this year to sit at $US9290 ($13,588), its apex for the last 12 months.

Facebook has reportedly been working on the currency for about a year and backers include companies such as Coinbase, Mastercard, Spotify and Vodafone.

According to crypto news site The Block, Facebook could make as much as $1bn from the 100 members backing the ‘Libra Consortium’, and the cryptocurrency itself could provide a useful stream of revenue outside ads.

Credibility for crypto

Andersson has been a big proponent of the idea that once traditional institutions start playing with digital assets, that will be a catalyst the sector needs for credibility and growth.

Although the US markets regulator still has not approved a crypto ETF, Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s biggest asset managers with more than $US7 trillion under management, says it’s close to launching a digital assets platform which will allow their clients to begin trading cryptocurrencies.

Other fund managers like Japanese bank Nomura are considering the same.

Everyone loves a bit of fintech

Fintech, both on and off public markets, has been a popular sector in Australia for months.

Globally, it’s been a major sector for startups and big business alike for years. Neobanks like Volt, small business debt offerers like Prospa, and services providers such as Cashwerkx, a term deposit platform, are trying to give traditional banks a run for customers’ money.

Payments is one vertical for tech companies wanting to become direct competitors to traditional banks, Anderson says.