Some WhatsApp users in the U.S. will be able to send and receive money using Meta's digital wallet, Novi, the company announced Wednesday. The new feature comes after Meta launched Novi as a pilot product in October, available as a mobile app in most U.S. states and Guatemala.
Incoming Novi head Stephane Kasriel said this is an important next step in Novi's early days. "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 tweeted. Kasriel said Novi payments will not impact WhatsApp's end-to-end encrypted messages.
The move is unsurprising — Meta's outgoing crypto boss David Marcus announced in October that all the company's financial products would be unified under the Novi brand. Meta, formerly Facebook, already offers conventional peer-to-peer and ecommerce payments in WhatsApp, its main Facebook app, Messenger, Instagram and on other services.
The Novi leader announced he was leaving the company last week, and called the WhatsApp Novi launch "the best farewell gift from the best farewell team ever!"
Meta's crypto efforts have shapeshifted wildly in the past couple of years. Novi is a rebrand of Meta's first digital wallet attempt, Calibra. Calibra and Meta's early crypto plans faced pressure from regulators and a loss of partnerships. Initially, Meta was all in on stablecoin Diem (formerly Libra). When Novi launched, Marcus said Meta's "support for Diem has not changed." But the wallet uses USDP instead, a stablecoin from blockchain company Paxos in partnership with Coinbase. As with most stablecoins, USDP is linked to the value of the U.S. dollar, a contrast with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin whose value can fluctuate wildly.