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.

Central Banks of France, Switzerland and BIS Complete Cross-Border CBDC Trial

Central Banks of France, Switzerland and BIS Complete Cross-Border CBDC Trial

Bank of France, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), and the Bank for International Settlements have successfully tested the application of wholesale central bank digital currency in cross-border payments. The project used distributed ledger technology and was realized with help from private firms.

France and Switzerland Explore Direct Transfer of Euro, Swiss Franc Wholesale Digital Currencies

An experiment carried out by the monetary authorities of France, Switzerland and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has indicated that central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) can be used effectively for international settlements between financial institutions, the participants in the trial announced.

Project Jura, which has been completed recently, focused on settling foreign exchange transactions in euro and Swiss franc wholesale CBDCs as well as issuing, transferring, and redeeming a tokenized euro-denominated French commercial paper between French and Swiss financial institutions, the banks explained.

The trial involved the direct transfer of euro and Swiss franc wholesale CBDCs between commercial banks in France and Switzerland on a single distributed ledger platform operated by a third party and with real-value transactions. It was conducted in collaboration with the private companies Accenture, Credit Suisse, Natixis, R3, SIX Digital Exchange, and UBS.

According to the partners, issuing wholesale CBDCs by providing regulated non-resident financial institutions with direct access to central bank money raises certain policy issues. To address these, they took a new approach, employing subnetworks and dual-notary signing which is expected to give central banks confidence to issue wholesale CBDCs on third-party platforms. Benoît Cœuré, who heads the BIS Innovation Hub, commented:

Project Jura confirms that a well-designed wholesale CBDC can play a critical role as a safe and neutral settlement asset for international financial transactions. It also demonstrates how central banks and the private sector can work together across borders to foster innovation.

“Jura demonstrates how wholesale CBDCs can optimise cross-currency and cross-border settlements, which are a key facet of international transactions,” added Sylvie Goulard, deputy governor of Banque de France.

The wholesale CBDC experiment is part of a series of trials launched by Bank of France last year and a continuation of the testing carried out under SNB’s Project Helvetia. It also contributes to the ongoing work on cross-border payments at G20, the central banks remarked while also noting that it should not be viewed as a plan on their part to issue wholesale CBDCs.

Do you think Bank of France and the Swiss National Bank will eventually issue wholesale CBDCs? Let us know in the comments section below.