Novi Launches Whatsapp Integration Pilot Program for Selected Users in the U.S.


Novi, the remittance and payments initiative of Meta (formerly Facebook), has launched a Whatsapp pilot test for customers in the U.S. This means that a small number of Whatsapp users will be able to send and receive payments, as well as purchase digital dollars directly from the interface of the messaging service. This is an extension of the pilot program started six weeks ago focusing on remittances.

Novi Extends Pilot Program With Whatsapp Integration

Novi, the wallet service of Meta, has launched an extension of its pilot program that started six weeks ago. This new phase includes integration with one of the most used messaging services in the world, Whatsapp. Now, selected users in the U.S. will have the opportunity to buy, send, and receive digital dollars with other users also enrolled in the test.

The announcement was made by Stephane Kasriel, the new head of Novi, who detailed this new phase of the pilot program on Twitter. Regarding the choice of Whatsapp, Kasriel explained:

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.

This seems a natural evolution for the future of payments envisioned by Novi, which aims to include a wallet in each smartphone that has Whatsapp. Prior to this announcement, Novi had started another pilot focused on allowing users to send remittances from the U.S. to Guatemala.

At that time, Facebook announced its system would be using USDP (paxos dollars) as currency for the system due to the regulatory problems the company had faced in launching its own currency. According to the interface shown on the official Novi Whatsapp page, this new phase of the test will also leverage USDP for payments.

Kasriel also hinted at a possible extended rollout of the pilot feature to other countries, once the company evaluates the behavior of the software and the response from users.

A Most Welcome Parting Gift

David Marcus, who was the lead for Novi and has managed the project since 2018, referred to this new development as a “farewell gift.” The executive stated on Twitter:

Another small step in the right direction. Today, we’re starting the rollout of the @novi wallet in @WhatsApp in the US. On a personal level, this is the best farewell gift from the best team ever!

Marcus announced his exit from the project last month noting he’d be pursuing new projects. This release could be a breath of fresh air for the project, which has been attacked by regulators since the first time it was announced.

What do you think about Novi and its Whatsapp rollout? Tell us in the comments section below.

Discussion on crypto and major tech firms combine in hearing over decentralization of digital ecosystem

“The point of crypto is to have true decentralization — the projects that succeed will be the projects that achieve that,” said Brian Brooks.

Blaine Luetkemeyer, a House representative from Missouri, revisited the issue of major companies exerting control over vast swaths of the internet, something he expressed concerns about encroaching in the crypto space.

Speaking at a Wednesday hearing on digital assets with The House Committee on Financial Services, Luetkemeyer addressed Bitfury CEO and former acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks in saying that major tech firms including Instagram, Facebook — now Meta — and Twitter “control people on their platforms.” Luetkemeyer asked whether this level of control could extend to undue influence for the rollout of a digital dollar.

“The point of crypto is to have true decentralization,” said Brooks. “The projects that succeed will be the projects that achieve that. Bitcoin succeeded because there were literally millions of participants in the node network, and so there is no CEO of Twitter to deplatform you, there’s no CEO of JPMorgan to take away your credit card.”

Bitfurty CEO Brian Brooks addressing the House Committee on Financial Services on Dec. 8

The Bitfury CEO added that he believed companies unable to meet this standard would be relegated to the “ash heap of history” — that is, lose their relevance and largely be forgotten. In his written statement to the committee, Brooks implied that a decentralized internet would be better “than an Internet largely controlled by five big companies”:

“Crypto policy should take into account not only any new risks introduced into the system, but also the risks in the present system that are being solved by decentralization.”

Related: Bank of International Settlement calls the rise of decentralized finance ‘an illusion’ in latest quarterly review

For many of the lawmakers in attendance at the Digital Assets and the Future of Finance hearing, the goal seems to be gaining a greater understanding of the existing space rather than how they might be able to provide a clear regulatory framework for crypto and blockchain for the future. The six CEOs in attendance from Circle, Paxos, Coinbase Inc., Stellar Development Foundation, FTX and Bitfury have fielded questions including those on ransomware attacks, quantum computing and price volatility.

This story is developing and may be updated, as the House committee hearing is still ongoing.