Meta ends pilot for Novi, the company’s digital wallet and the last remaining piece of its troubled cryptocurrency project, as first reported by Bloomberg† on Novi’s websiteMeta says the wallet will be shut down on September 1, 2022, asking users to withdraw their funds “as soon as possible.”
Users will lose access to their accounts in September and will no longer be able to add funds to Novi from July 21. If someone forgets to withdraw their remaining balance, Meta says it will try to transfer their money to the bank account or debit card added to the service.
Meta rolled out Novi’s “small pilot” to users in the US and Guatemala last October. Novi was originally built to support fast and free transactions using the Meta-backed cryptocurrency, Diem, but regulatory challenges forced the company to partner with Coinbase to use the Paxos stablecoin (USDP) instead. . While Meta made it clear that the still planning to add support for Diem at a later date, things started to fall apart (more than they already were) in late 2021 and 2022.
Before Facebook’s parent company was known as Meta, Diem was also known by another name: Libra. The cryptocurrency project has come under scrutiny for its ties to Facebook, so much so that the independent group behind Libra changed the project to Diem in an effort to distance itself from the social network.
Members of the US Senate called on Meta to halt 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 a month later. Diem sold his assets for about $200 million early this year, ending the project.
However, the end of Diem doesn’t mean that Meta is abandoning the idea of developing its own digital assets and associated wallet. Meta spokesperson Lauren Dickson said in an emailed statement: The edge that Meta will use the technology it has developed in conjunction with the project “on new products, such as digital collectibles”, as it aims to “build 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 in the US† The company is also reportedly working on a digital currency called “Zuck Bucks” that will not be based on the blockchain.
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 is said to be interoperable for various metaverse experiences, a reflection of the goals of the Metaverse Standards Forum that Meta and a group of other companies helped shape, which calls for industry-wide standards for virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.