comscore WhatsApp launches cryptocurrency payments in the US
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WhatsApp launches cryptocurrency payments with Novi wallet

Novi digital wallet will be available to a ‘limited number of users in the US’ within WhatsApp.

Novi wallet on WhatsApp

Novi platform: WhatsApp earlier this year started a pilot program for select users in the US that lets users send and receive money via cryptocurrency within WhatsApp using the company’s cryptocurrency-based digital wallet Novi. Novi uses a stablecoin called Pax Dollar (USDP) that is backed by the US dollar. WhatsApp users won’t be buying cryptocurrency when they send or receive money using Novi. Instead, stablecoins will be used for facilitating transactions. (Stepahne Kasriel/Twitter)


Meta has launched a new pilot program that lets users send and receive money via cryptocurrency within WhatsApp. The feature is powered by the company’s cryptocurrency-based digital wallet Novi that was launched as a pilot six weeks back. It will be available to a ‘limited number of users in the US’, head of Novi, Stephane Kasriel, wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. Also Read - Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Diem is coming to an end

“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 wrote in a tweet. “Using Novi doesn’t change the privacy of WhatsApp personal messages and calls, which are always end-to-end encrypted,” he added. Also Read - WhatsApp update brings Focus Mode, new voice messages feature to iPhones

How does this feature work

Novi’s website says that the cryptocurrency-based payments option works much like other payment options on WhatsApp. WhatsApp users can either use their existing Novi wallets or they can create new accounts to send and receive money. To transfer money using Novi wallet, WhatsApp users will have to open the chat window of the contact whom they want to transfer money to and then select the Payment option in the menu after the paperclip icon on Android or the plus icon on iOS. In the following screen, WhatsApp users will be asked to log into their existing Novi accounts or create a new account, after which they will be able to transfer money to their contacts seamlessly.

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Novi has its roots in Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans that were announced back in 2019. At the time, Facebook (now Meta) had planned to introduce a cryptocurrency of its own called Libra. As per the plans shared by the company at the time, Libra would be secured by low-volatility assets rather than a particular currency, which would make it globally acceptable and far easier to use owing to lower fees than traditional methods. The plans at the time also detailed that Libra would be stored in a digital wallet called Calibra.

Much has changed since then. Libra has become Diem and Calibra has become Novi. Novi uses a stablecoin called Pax Dollar (USDP) that is backed by the US dollar. On Novi, one USDP is equal to one US dollar. So WhatsApp users won’t be buying cryptocurrency when they send or receive money using Novi. Instead, the new feature will use stablecoins as a means to facilitate the transaction.

That said, transacting on Novi via WhatsApp has limited usability fow now. However, Kasriel says that the company will expand the service after getting feedback from the users.

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  • Published Date: December 10, 2021 1:42 PM IST



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