June 22, 2022

Novi: Meta shutting down its Digital Wallet 

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Meta’s terminating the pilot for Novi, the company’s digital wallet and the last remaining part of its troubled cryptocurrency project.

On Novi’s website, Meta says the wallet closes on September 1st, 2022, asking users to withdraw their funds “as soon as possible.”

Users will lose admission to their accounts come September and can no longer count money to Novi starting July 21st. If someone forgets to withdraw their remaining balance, Meta says it will “attempt to transfer” their funds to the bank account or debit card added to the service.

Meta rolled out the “small pilot” of Novi to users in the US and Guatemala last October. Novi was initially built to support fast and free transactions using the Meta-backed cryptocurrency, Diem. Still, regulatory challenges compelled the company to partner with Coinbase to utilize the Paxos stablecoin (USDP) instead. While Meta made it clear that it still planned on adding support for Diem at a later date, things started to fall apart (more than they already were) at the end of 2021 and into 2022.

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Before Facebook’s parent company was known as Meta, Diem was known by another name: Libra. As a result, the cryptocurrency project faced scrutiny over its ties to Facebook, so much so that the independent group behind Libra rebranded the project to Diem to distance itself from the social network.

Members of the US Senate called on Meta to shut down its Novi project shortly after its October 2021 launch, citing that the company “cannot be trusted to manage cryptocurrency.” David Marcus, the head of Meta’s cryptocurrency projects, left the company one month later. In addition, Diem sold its assets for about $200 million at the beginning of this year, marking an end to the project.

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The end of Diem doesn’t mean that Meta is ditching the idea of developing its digital assets and accompanying wallet, though. On the contrary, meta spokesperson Lauren Dickson said in an emailed statement to The Verge that Meta will utilize the technology it developed in conjunction with the project “on new products, such as digital collectibles,” as it looks toward “building the metaverse.”

Meta has already started testing NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on Instagram and recently rolled out support for NFTs on Facebook for select creators based in the US. The company is also reportedly performing on a digital currency, called “Zuck Bucks,” not based on the blockchain.

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Last month, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also hinted at creating a digital wallet that could help you manage and store “digital clothing, art, videos, music, experiences, virtual events, and more.” The wallet would be interoperable across different metaverse experiences, reflecting the goals of the Metaverse Standards Forum. Meta and a group of other companies helped form. It called for industry-wide standards across virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.

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Meta Platforms, Inc., doing trade as Meta and formerly called Facebook, Inc. and TheFacebook, Inc., is an American multinational technology coalition based in Menlo Park, California. The company holds Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, with other products and services.

Meta is one of the globally most valuable businesses. It is believed to be one of the Big Five American information technology institutions, alongside Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Meta products and services include Facebook Watch, Facebook, Messenger, and Facebook Portal. It has also formulated Oculus, Giphy, Mapillary, Kustomer, and Presize and holds a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms. In 2021, the company developed 97.5% of its revenue from marketing advertisement placements to marketers.

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In October 2021, the parent organization of Facebook changed its name from Facebook, Inc. to Meta to “reflect its emphasis on constructing the metaverse.” The “metaverse” refers to the integrated environment that links all of the company’s products and services.

Meta has frozen the development of its Novi digital wallet project, and sources close to the matter have told “Globes.” The project was initially planned for trading – a discontinued activity. Following this latest step, Facebook will disband various teams in the US. At the company’s development camp in Israel, new tasks are being pursued in the risk management technology division, which was put up to deliver services for the digital wallet.

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This latest step arrives as Meta has started 2022 by cleaning its desk. In addition, last week, “Globes” registered the closure of its Israel-led Express-Wi-Fi project for Wi-Fi networks in developing nations.

While discontinuing the Novi digital wallet project, Meta is exploring the possibility of transferring more financial assistance to Facebook Pay – another wallet infrastructure the company has already opened. Thus, Novi is leaving as an NFT trading platform for creating digital art or animated game accessories.

Because Novi’s activities are at the cost of the Facebook Pay infrastructure, which is already utilized on platforms like Facebook Stores and Facebook Marketplace, the company is grappling with the question of if there is any point in persisting Novi’s development. However, despite the freezing of most of Novi’s financial development activities, the project’s pilot in the US and Guatemala, which began last October, will continue.

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