Following a recent initial trial, Meta's controversial cryptocurrency project has taken another step forward, with new Novi CEO Stephane Kasriel stating today that a limited number of users in the United States would be able to send and receive money using Novi on WhatsApp. Users in the trial will be able to swiftly and simply transfer dollars – charge-free – using Novi on WhatsApp, as shown in this sequence. This will effectively serve as a bigger proof of concept test of the process.
In October, a limited group of users in the United States and Guatemala participated in a trial of the Novi digital wallet, which allowed them to send and receive money across the two countries. According to Kasriel, the Novi team gained a variety of observations during the system's first live test. They've been able to test and discover which features and functions are most essential to users since launching the Novi pilot just six weeks ago, and they've been able to focus their efforts on making things even better. People frequently mention using WhatsApp to organize sending money to loved ones, and Novi makes this possible securely, swiftly, and without fees.
This is an important use case for Novi, as it allows users, particularly those in poor economies, to send remittance transfers through the app, such as sending money to families in other countries. Remittance is a critical component of the Indian market, with Indian citizens remitting more money than anyone else on the planet. That's where Meta hopes to see their Novi method take hold, as it would increase the usability and value of WhatsApp, India's most popular messaging app, with 487 million users.
This would also help the company's eCommerce efforts. While the Indian government is still opposed to cryptocurrency and giving Meta, in particular, more economic power, Meta will be hoping that this initial trial will better showcase the system's potential value, which could then help it convince regulators in other markets to allow it to launch Novi there as well. Though it's difficult to predict what the project's future holds. A lot of it boils down to how you feel about cryptocurrency in general, and whether or not it will ever become a viable, mainstream payment method.
The attractiveness of cryptocurrency is that it frees consumers from reliance on established institutional structures, allowing you greater financial independence and autonomy. However, this entails increased risk and fewer options for recourse in the event of theft or other scams.
There are also concerns about the larger economic consequences of more people abandoning traditional financial institutions, and in most situations, there is no clear answer as to what the best course of action is, or even what the true benefits of crypto are in a broader sense. As a result, financial regulators have been mainly averse to crypto efforts — while proponents of the technology argue that this is simply them defending their land. Some governments are currently supporting pilot programs to test the waters for crypto payment systems, but it's still early days, and market volatility shows that there's still a lot to figure out.
As previously stated, regulators are wary of giving the tech behemoth more power and influence, with the addition of payments and massive amounts of user data seen as a step too far by many. Because the project is attempting to distance itself from Meta to maximize acceptance, Novi now operates independently of Meta. However, there is still significant opposition and concern on various fronts.
Perhaps this fresh trial will persuade more people, but it seems unlikely because the issue isn't so much with the concept as it is with the execution. But it will give Novi additional data to work with, and if customer demand is strong, it will be able to use demand and interest to bolster their case. A small number of WhatsApp users in the United States can now make Novi payments.