Meta To Pilot Crypto Payments Via Novi Wallet In WhatsApp

Meta (Facebook) has surprised market watchers with the news that it is opening up its WhatApp messaging app.

Meta has said it will conduct a pilot for a limited number of people in the United States, where the Novi cryptocurrency wallet will be used so WhatsApp users can send and receive money, Reuters reported.

The development comes just days after the announcement that David Marcus, the executive in charge of Facebook’s cryptocurrency efforts was leaving Meta.

Crypto setbacks

Marcus announced last week he was leaving Facebook at the end of the year, and it came after Facebook’s struggle to launch the Libra cryptocurrency that was touted as a way to for online users to send money to anyone in the world via Facebook products.

However Libra failed to get off the ground.

Facebook had surprised the world when it announced the Libra blockchain currency and the Calibra digital wallet in June 2019, and said it planned to launch it by June 2020.

But the project was widely criticised by regulators around the world, including France, the Bank of England, and the US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, as well as others.

This sustained pressure and pushback from politicians and regulatory bodies globally, caused Facebook in March 2020 to announce it was to ‘rethink’ its plan for Libra.

And then in April 2020 the Facebook-backed Libra project drastically reduced the scope of its planned cryptocurrency.

Neither Libra blockchain currency and the Calibra wallet were realised, but Facebook finally did release its digital wallet product, renamed as Novi.

The digital currency meanwhile is now named Diem, and it remains unreleased to the public.

WhatsApp pilot

But now Meta has offered up a glimpse into the future of the Novi digital wallet.

The pilot program is open to a limited number of people in the United States, Novi head Stephane Kasriel tweeted on Wednesday.

“We often hear that people use WhatsApp to coordinate sending money to loved ones, and Novi enables people to do that securely, instantly and with no fees,” he tweeted. “Payments will appear directly in people’s chat.”

“We’re still very early in the Novi pilot journey, so we made the decision to test this new entry point in one country to start and will look to extend it once we’ve heard from people what they think of this new experience,” he added.

Using Novi does not change the privacy of WhatsApp personal messages and calls, he said.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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