With billions of users worldwide, any cryptocurrency launched by Facebook would instantly eclipse bitcoin in terms of reach (iStock/ Composite/ The Independent)

A Facebook spokesperson directed request for comment about the latest report to the WhatsApp press office. WhatsApp did not respond.

In December, Facebook told The Independent that the company did have an interest in the technology but refused to give further details.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” the spokesperson said. “This new small team is exploring many different applications.”