WhatsApp has launched a new feature that’s available to a limited number of people in the U.S. which enables users to send and receive payments in the form of cryptocurrencies within a chat with each other. The process, according to the Novi website, works similarly to sending an attachment of any kind within the app, which involves tapping the paper clip icon or the “+” icon on Android and Apple respectively, and then selecting the “Payment” option that appears in the menu. It’s worth noting that there are no fees for any transactions made using this feature, and neither are there any limits in terms of how often payments can be sent, payments are also transferred instantly.
Novi is the company powering up the feature. The company, powered by Meta, had its digital wallet launch as a pilot 6 weeks ago, using Pax Dollars (USDP), a stablecoin that’s pegged to US dollar issued by Paxos.
Stephane Kasriel, Novi’s project lead said “There’s a new way to try Novi digital wallet. Starting today, a limited number of people in the U.S. will be able to send and receive money using Novi on WhatsApp.”
While Novi Pilot was available for both U.S. and Guatemala, users from Guatemala won’t be able to make use of the payment feature on WhatsApp at least at the moment, and are urged to continue using the Novi app for any transactions they wish to make. The WhatsApp payments feature doesn’t affect the end-to-end encryption, so as to not compromise the privacy of one on one conversations.
Facebook once planned to develop its own cryptocurrency, titled at one point in time as “Libra”, so it’s true to say that the new pilot definitely has its roots placed in what’s now known as Meta. Libra was planned to be a low-volatility asset basket rather than contain any specific currency. Libra would integrate with a (then) Facebook-developed digital wallet known as Calibra. The system was created with the idea to send money across the globe with lower fees than traditional methods in mind.
Of course, plans have changed since then, and Libra has evolved into Diem, The Libra association lost a lot of members and then became part of the Diem association, and Calibra transformed into Novi. Novi has seen its launch without the Diem crypto.
David Marcus, then head of Novi mentioned the company is still committed to Diem back when he made the announcement of the Novi pilot in October. He said “We intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval,” in a tweet. Marcus subsequently revealed he would be stepping down from the company by the end of the year.
Though WhatsApp payment methods are currently more focused on Novi and cryptocurrency, the rest of the world has already been receiving payment methods as part of the app, with India seeing a widespread rollout of a payment system, with Brazil seeing the launch of it as well.