Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Novi wallet will now let a “limited number” of people in the US send and receive crypto through WhatsApp. That’s a huge step for cryptocurrency adoption in the mainstream, as it will allow users to easily send money directly within a messaging app without having to go through a third party.
The news comes six weeks after Facebook (now Meta) launched a pilot for its digital wallet, Novi, in the US and Guatemala using Pax Dollars, a stablecoin from blockchain firm Paxos in partnership with crypto exchange Coinbase. The company says the wallet aims to help 1.7 billion adults worldwide who don’t have access to bank accounts or traditional financial services.
It also hopes to nudge people away from the high fees that many banks charge for international transfers. In addition to allowing users to send and receive money instantly and with no fees, Novi uses a stablecoin that’s backed by the US dollar, a contrast to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, which are volatile.
Novi will require a government ID before it allows people to use the service. This can be a passport, driver’s license or other valid document. Once a user’s identity has been verified, they can then transfer the money to others and even move it to their bank account.
As for security, Novi commits to ensuring that any personal information is encrypted before being stored in the wallet. Additionally, the company has promised to refund any unauthorized transfers.
Compared to Facebook’s Libra, which failed to launch globally and was backed by a variety of partners, Novi is much simpler in terms of regulatory hurdles. In fact, Meta’s outgoing CEO David Marcus has said that the platform would eventually be transitioned to Diem coins.
However, the main goal of Novi is to address a problem that’s often overlooked: 1.7 billion people around the world who don’t have a bank account or other form of access to the global financial system. Ultimately, Meta wants to make it easy for these people to participate in the world economy and help them to save for the future.
According to the company, it is “taking a different approach to financial services than other companies.” It has a mission to improve the lives of 1.7 billion adults around the world who are “unengaged in global financial systems.”
The app will be available for free download from the Google Play Store and App Store and can be used from any mobile device that supports the Novi app. Once installed, the app will prompt users to verify their identity with a photo ID before they can begin using it.
One of the biggest concerns about cryptocurrencies has been the possibility of scams and thefts. The good news is that the Novi team promises to handle any unauthorized transfers with no repercussions. They have also committed to refunding any unauthorized transfers that happen as a result of the application’s lack of security.
Lastly, the company is working with Coinbase to provide custody services for their customers’ funds. These custody services will ensure that the funds they hold are safe from fraud or any other type of unauthorized activity.