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Marcus didn't go into specifics. The move would help surround CEO Mark Zuckerberg with executives he believes are "proficient and understand his vision", an executive told The Wall Street Journal.

The experimental blockchain group will be led by David Marcus, the executive most recently in charge of Facebook's Messenger group.

United States media reports indicated that a disagreement with Facebook over the privacy of user data may have also been a factor in Koum's decision to quit his position as a high-ranking executive and likely leave his seat on the board at the leading online social network. Blockchain is the underpinning technology behind bitcoin and all of the very many other cryptocurrencies.

"I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge", Marcus says in a new post.

Last month, the co-founder of WhatsApp - the encrypted messaging app Facebook bought in 2014 for $19 billion - announced he would part ways with Facebook.

Instagram's current vice president of product, Kevin Weil, will be leaving that role to join Facebook's blockchain team under Marcus.

When he joined the Coinbase board last December, he said that he had been fascinated by cryptocurrencies since 2012 and is "convinced that what the company is working on has the potential to materially change the lives of people around the world".

Facebook is undergoing one of the biggest executive reshuffles in its history, the company announced internally today, Recode reports.

Chris Cox, a longtime member of Zuckerberg's inner circle, was put in charge of Facebook's core application as well as smartphone services Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, the California-based company confirmed. Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox will lead that division overall, with exec Stan Chudnovsky taking over command of Messenger specifically. It's the technology that enables all cryptocurrencies to function as they do - it doesn't require a central authority, like a bank, to establish that the data in the blockchain is accurate. At Facebook, the technology could be used in payments, gaming, the creation of digital art, and the swapping of collectible items - all applications for the blockchain that are now being explored by the tech industry.