Meta’s Novi Wallet Debuts Payments in WhatsApp

The payment service initiated by Facebook is piloting its wallet for sending Paxos’ USDP stablecoin

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key takeaways

  • Novi’s first pilot program, launched in October 2021, allowed payments between select US states and Guatemala
  • The Novi wallet was originally called Calibra, under Facebook’s Libra stablecoin project, which Facebook rebranded Libra to Diem in December 2020, before rebranding itself to Meta in October 2021

Select US users can now use WhatsApp to send payments in US dollar stablecoins, via a new pilot program from Novi, the digital wallet started by Facebook (now Meta). 

Novi aims to bring affordable financial services to billions of unbanked people worldwide by allowing them to send and receive money across borders quickly and at low cost using mobile phones.

Vice President of Product at Novi, Stephane Kasriel, and Head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart, each announced on Dec. 8 on Twitter that the wallet was beginning to roll out on the popular messaging app, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $16 billion in cash and stock.

Unlike the first Novi pilot program launched on Oct. 19, which allowed payments between the US and Guatemala using a separate Novi app, the WhatsApp pilot is only within the US.

Both projects employ Coinbase custody services and enable payments to be made using the USDP stablecoin issued by Paxos. Chad Cascarilla, CEO of Paxos was one of six executives testifying before Congress yesterday, and the company has made efforts to operate within the bounds of regulatory oversight, including by obtaining a banking charter from the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

Absent from the new pilot is Meta’s own planned Diem stablecoin. Diem has been the target of pronounced regulatory scrutiny since Facebook first unveiled its predecessor Libra in 2019. David Marcus, who headed Facebook’s financial services branch, was called to testify to members of Congress shortly after the original project was unveiled, and it has faced an uphill battle ever since.

Marcus, who recently announced his departure from Meta, called the new launch, “Another small step in the right direction,” and “The best farewell gift from the best team ever!”

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