Bloomberg reported this week that Meta will be shutting down its pilot of the Novi digital wallet in September, one of the last remnants of the company’s troubled cryptocurrency push.
Novi users in parts of the US and Guatemala will no longer be able to log in from September 1.
And from July 21, they will not be able to add to the wallet. In fact, Novi’s website urges users to clear their accounts “as soon as possible.” Novi says that if you still have money in your account after the pilot ends, it will “attempt to transfer your balance to the bank account or debit card you added to Novi”.
The pilot for Novia, originally known as Calibra, launched in October, but Meta was already turning away from its crypto dreams, including, at their height, the company’s own stablecoin, Diem, formerly known as Tula. Novia instead launched with the Paxos Trust Company’s USDP stablecoin. It also had some integration with WhatsApp.
But last year, project head David Marcus left Meta. And in January, we detailed the collapse of Meta’s cryptocurrency aspirations, prompting the company to sell off its assets (mostly intellectual property) and return them to investors.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his crypto hopes in 2019 with a dream to use crypto for easy transactions across WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. But despite big-name investments, US regulators’ concerns about distribution, network policing, and fears of overly concentrated economic power with member companies derailed Meta’s plans. Ultimately, it became unclear whether the Federal Reserve would allow the project’s bank to issue stablecoins.
Although Novi will soon be dead, Meta insists that the technologies of a cryptocurrency wallet are not. Despite doubts about non-fungible tokens — related to their need, reputation, and value (the largest NFT market, OpenC, fell 85 percent in the first half of 2022, according to the Financial Times) — the benefits of Novi technology to other metaverses. It’s picking up- y projects, including building Meta’s capabilities around blockchain and “digital collectibles,” a company representative told Bloomberg.
“You can expect to see more of us in the Web3 space because we are very optimistic about the value of these technologies that can bring people and businesses to the metaverse,” the representative reportedly said.
Meta is already testing NFTs on Instagram, a supposed way for creators to make money. In late June, Zuckerberg said the company would bring that test to Facebook “soon.”