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Meta (FB) will shut down Novi, the social media company’s digital wallet payments pilot, on Sept. 1, all but ending the libra stablecoin experiment three years after the company then known as Facebook unveiled its ambitious but ultimately doomed crypto payments gamble.
Meta announced the news on the service’s website, texting users a link to the announcement that urged users to withdraw their money from the platform “as soon as possible.” Beginning July 21, users will lose the ability to add money to their accounts. Novi’s WhatsApp account and the Novi app will also become unavailable. Once the pilot ends, users will not have access to their transaction history and other data.
Novi, originally known as Calibra, had been Meta’s wallet for its libra stablecoin (later renamed diem) revealed in June 2019. Its role shifted as regulatory pressures forced the stablecoin project to change course. Novi became a money-transfer pilot for crypto-based remittances in 2020 – but it never got beyond the U.S. and Guatemala.
Although Meta decided to kill the Novi pilot, the company said it has plans to repurpose the technology for future products, including its metaverse initiative.
“We are already leveraging the years spent on building capabilities for Meta overall on blockchain and introducing new products, such as digital collectibles,” Meta said in an emailed statement. “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.”
In the interim, Meta has begun exploring efforts to support non-fungible tokens (NFT) on its sites.
Meta scrapped its original, stablecoin-oriented plans for Novi/Calibra after the company faced regulatory pushback over its ability to combat money laundering, protect consumers and monitor other security and financial risks. It scaled back and rebranded the effort along the way.
David Marcus, who spearheaded the Novi project, departed Meta last year. In January, three years after the company unveiled its libra stablecoin, the company sold the successor Diem project’s assets to crypto-oriented bank Silvergate Capital (SI) for $200 million.
The closing of Meta’s libra chapter comes amid a major downturn in cryptocurrency markets as the industry contends with layoffs and several prominent businesses, including Celsius and Voyager, facing solvency issues.