Novi no more —
Three years and many name changes later, Meta’s crypto dreams are moribund.
Meta will shut down its pilot of the Novi digital wallet, one of the last remnants of the company’s beleaguered cryptocurrency push, in September, Bloomberg reported this week.
Novi users in parts of the US and Guatemala will no longer be able to log in starting on September 1.
And as of July 21, they won’t be able to add to the wallets. In fact, Novi’s website urges users to empty their accounts “as soon as possible.” Novi says it will “attempt to transfer your balance to the bank account or debit card you’ve added to Novi” if you still have money in your account after the pilot ends.
The pilot for Novia, originally known as Calibra, launched in October, but Meta was already turning from its crypto dreams, which, at their height, included the company’s own stablecoin, Diem, formerly known as Libra. Novia launched with Paxos Trust Co.’s USDP stablecoin instead. It also had some integration with WhatsApp.
But last year, the head of the project, David Marcus, departed Meta. And in January, we detailed the fall of Meta’s cryptocurrency aspirations, signaled by the company selling off its assets (mostly intellectual property) and refunding investors.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his crypto hopes in 2019, with dreams of using crypto for easy transactions in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. But despite big-name investments, US regulators’ concerns about distribution, network policing, and fears of overly concentrated economic power going to member companies derailed Meta’s plans. Ultimately, it became unclear if the Federal Reserve would let the project’s bank issue the stablecoin.
Although Novi will soon be dead, Meta insists that the cryptocurrency wallet’s technologies aren’t. Despite skepticism around non-fungible tokens—pertaining to their necessity, reputation, and value (the largest NFT marketplace, OpenSea, fell 85 percent in the first half of 2022, according to Financial Times)—Meta is leveraging Novi technology news for other metaverse-y projects, including building Meta’s capabilities around blockchain and “digital collectibles,” a company representative told Bloomberg.
“You can expect to see more from us in the web3 space because we are very optimistic about the value these technologies can bring to people and businesses in the metaverse,” the representative reportedly said.
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