Ending a project that once sought to build a world-spanning financial network, Meta announced on the Novi website Friday that the pilot test of its blockchain-based money-transfer app would end in September.
Novi was a far cry from what Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and then-Meta executive David Marcus originally envisioned. They unveiled plans for a stablecoin, initially called Libra, in 2019, with plans to launch it in 2020, along with a crypto wallet called Calibra. It soon faced resistance from regulators around the globe. The token was renamed Diem and the wallet Novi, but the new name didn't change official skepticism.
Novi eventually launched as a money-transfer service using the USDP stablecoin issued by Paxos, not the still-unlaunched Diem, and operating only between the U.S. and Guatemala. Marcus left Meta last year, and Meta sold assets related to the project to its banking partner, Silvergate.
Novi was supposed to become the new brand for all of Meta's financial products, including Facebook Pay. But after Marcus' departure, Meta started downplaying the Novi name. Meta's financial operations became Meta Financial Technologies in March, and Facebook Pay became Meta Pay in June.
Meta hasn't completely abandoned its blockchain ambitions, signaling that support for cryptocurrency payments will eventually be built into Meta Pay.
The rebranding wasn't cheap: An affiliate of Meta, Beige Key LLC, paid MetaBank $60 million last year for the rights to the trademark. MetaBank is renaming itself Pathward.
Marcus has founded a startup called Lightspark, which is working on developing Lightning, a payments technology that runs on top of the bitcoin blockchain.