Ex-PayPal, Meta exec says it’s time for average Joe crypto

David Marcus noted that while crypto projects tackle complex technical issues, many lack real-world relevance


Chaikom/Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks


Crypto hasn’t integrated into daily consumer practices — not yet, anyway.

David Marcus, CEO of bitcoin tech infrastructure firm Lightspark, believes it’s high time for that to evolve.

In a Spaces chat with a16z executives Sriram Krishnan and Eddy Lazzarin on Tuesday, Marcus stressed the importance of crafting solutions in the crypto industry that resonate with real-world challenges and for developers to genuinely comprehend the entire user journey.

“I feel like in crypto in general, I’ve seen many projects that are basically solving very complex technical challenges and very talented people working on them,” he said, adding that many of these solutions lack immediate relevance in the real world.

“For a normal consumer to actually use the thing, it would take a lot of suspending disbelief,” Marcus said.

For those innovating in the field, he thinks it’s crucial to assess whether their solutions truly address real-world challenges. 

He urged builders in the space to consider two questions — whether the idea can shift consumer habits, or whether it can achieve broad adoption by unlocking opportunities constrained by current systems.

Marcus is a seasoned entrepreneur who founded mobile payments startup Zong, which caught the attention of PayPal and led to its acquisition. His rapid progression within PayPal set the stage for his getting recruited by Facebook, where he helped grow its user base to hundreds of millions. 

Building on this expertise, Marcus played a pivotal role in the inception of Libra (renamed Diem), a brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg. Diem aimed to democratize finance, enabling users on Facebook’s suite of apps, including Messenger and WhatsApp, to transact using crypto globally, which could then be converted to local currencies.

But Diem hit a roadblock when lawmakers questioned Meta’s intentions and the extent of the platform’s influence over global social media.

During the Spaces discussion, Marcus also suggested that he is frustrated that financial technology hasn’t evolved much since the ’60s and ’70s.

While many fintech companies have improved the user interface, they’re still built on outdated systems. 

Instead of just making these old systems look better, Marcus said he’s more interested in the global money system being upgraded to be more open, compatible and cost-effective.

To that end, the Lightspark executive said he’s on a mission.

“I made that decision… that this is a thing I’m going to actually succeed at or die trying,” he said. 

“I’m not going to do anything else for the rest of my life until it’s done.”

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