Novi Digital Wallet Trial Extends to WhatsApp
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Novi Digital Wallet Trial Extends to WhatsApp

6 months ago

Stephane Kasriel, who recently stepped up to lead Novi following the departure of David Marcus, said the move will make "sending money to family and friends as easy as sending a message."

Novi Digital Wallet Trial Extends to WhatsApp

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Facebook — now Meta — appears to be getting into its stride as it aims to roll out digital currencies to billions of users.

Trials of the Novi wallet are in full swing across Guatemala and parts of the U.S. through a partnership with Coinbase.

And now, "a limited number" of people in the U.S. will be able to use Novi within WhatsApp, the popular messaging platform that Meta owns.

Stephane Kasriel, who recently stepped up to lead Novi following the departure of David Marcus, said the move will make "sending money to family and friends as easy as sending a message."

The executive said the trials that have taken place over the past six weeks have allowed Novi "to test and learn which features and functionality are most important to people," adding:

"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. Payments will appear directly in people's chat."

Kasriel shared screenshots that show how a user can decide how much money to send within the app, before making a purchase of the USDP stablecoin using a debit card. Notification of the transferred funds then appears in a message to the recipient.

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What's Next

The Novi executive went on to stress that its pilot programs remain at a "very early" stage — and that's why WhatsApp functionality has only been rolled out to one country so far. Kasriel added:

"[We] will look to extend it once we’ve heard from people what they think of this new experience."

Last but by no means least, he stressed "using Novi doesn't change the privacy of WhatsApp personal messages and calls, which are always end-to-end encrypted." 

The tech giant certainly has faced an uphill struggle as it attempts to break into the world of digital currencies.

A staunch pushback from regulators has meant that, while the Novi digital wallet has been able to launch, the Diem digital currency remains on hold.

As a result, Novi has entered into a partnership with Paxos, and its USDP stablecoin is the main cryptocurrency that's supported by the wallet.

Paxos CEO and co-founder Charles Cascarilla was one of the crypto executives who attended a Congress hearing on Wednesday.

The panel's chair Maxine Waters raised Facebook's controversial plans to roll out a stablecoin during the hearing — and told Cascarilla she was "a bit concerned" about his company because of its involvement with Novi.

Cascarilla stressed that Paxos did perform due diligence into Facebook and its digital currency ambitions — describing them as a customer. He subsequently stressed that any questions about Novi's plans should be directed to them, not him.

Later in the hearing, he explained that stablecoins weren't meant to challenge the dominance of the U.S. dollar, but broaden access to it:

"What people want is a U.S. dollar bank account. Everywhere in the world, people want to be able to have U.S. dollars — and actually, that's the hardest thing to get. Crypto is a tool for a lot of different things, including bringing communities together, but what people want for their everyday spending is dollars … That's why tokenized dollars are so valuable."

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