Meta is completing the 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 website, Meta says the wallet will close on September 1, 2022 and asks users to withdraw their funds “as soon as possible”.
Users will lose access to their accounts in September and will not be able to add funds to Novi from 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 Novi’s “small pilot” last October to users in the US and Guatemala. Novi was initially developed 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 stablecoin Paxos (USDP) instead. While Meta made it clear that it still planning to add support for Diem things started to fall apart (more than they already were) at a later point in time, in late 2021 and into 2022.
Before Facebook’s parent company was known as Meta, Diem was also known by another name: Libra. The cryptocurrency project has been so scrutinized for its ties to Facebook that the independent group behind Libra renamed the project Diem to distance itself from the social network.
US Senate members urged Meta to shut down its Novi project shortly after its launch in October 2021, citing that the company “cannot be trusted in managing cryptocurrency.” David Marcus, the head of Meta’s cryptocurrency projects, left the company a month later. Diem sold his assets for about $200 million earlier this year, marking the end of the project.
However, Diem’s demise doesn’t mean that Meta is abandoning the idea of developing its own digital assets and associated wallet. Meta spokeswoman Lauren Dickson announced in an emailed statement The edge that Meta will use the technology it has developed in connection with the project “for 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 US-based developers. The company is also reportedly working on a non-blockchain digital currency called Zuck Bucks.
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 and reflects the goals of the Metaverse Standards Forum, which Meta and a group of other companies co-founded, which calls for industry-wide standards for virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.