WhatsApp has launched a pilot project enabling some users in the US to send and receive money using crypto. The feature is powered by Meta (formerly Facebook) digital wallet Novi, which launched as a pilot one month and a half ago. Payments were made using the stablecoin Pax Dollars (USDP). Novi head Stephane Kasriel tweeted:
There’s a new way to try the @Novi digital wallet. Starting today, a limited number of people in the US will be able to send and receive money using Novi on @WhatsApp, making sending money to family and friends as easy as sending a message.
No fees for sending or receiving money
Sending a payment is not unlike sending any other attachment in WhatsApp. There is no limit on how often you can send payments, no fees for sending or receiving money, and no fees to withdraw a balance or keep a balance in your Novi account. Payment transfers are instant. They don’t affect the platform’s end-to-end encryption, which is there for all personal conversations by default.
Pilot has roots in Meta crypto plans
In 2019, Facebook announced plans to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra, which would be pegged to a variety of stable assets and integrate with Calibra, a Facebook-developed digital wallet. The idea was to be able to make international transfers with lower fees than traditional methods.
Plans underwent major changes
In just two years, Facebook has become Meta, Libra has become Diem, and Calibra has become Novi. Ultimately, Novi launched without the Diem cryptocurrency. It uses Pax dollars, created by the company Paxos. On its part, Meta is relying on Coinbase for custody services.
David Marcus, the previous head of Novi, announced the company was still committed to Diem when discussing the launch of the Novi pilot in October. After that, he said he was leaving Novi. He was replaced by Stephane Kasriel.
WhatsApp offers fiat payments in India and Brazil
WhatsApp’s initiatives in the US may revolve around Novi and cryptocurrency, but they offer payments using traditional fiat currencies elsewhere in the world. Last year, they rolled such out throughout India. They are also possible in Brazil.