Meta’s Novi money-transfer service users have received messages informing them of the platform’s imminent demise, with the pilot project’s experimental subjects becoming unable to add money to their accounts after July 21. According to reporting from Bloomberg (opens in new tab), they should withdraw their funds and download their transaction histories, if needed, as soon as possible before the service is closed down on September 1.
The message on the Novi website (opens in new tab) is certainly unequivocal: “The Novi pilot is ending soon” after just 11 months in service. For those not deeply entrenched in Web3 lore, Novi is the smoldering remnant of the project that used to be Diem, and also was once Libra before having to change its name following a legal challenge.
The original plan for Libra was for it to be a stablecoin, backed by other currencies and US treasury securities to avoid the volatility that has seen certain other cryptocurrencies soar and crash. The last gasp of Novi was as a money transfer service baked into Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp that used the currency’s digital wallet technology to facilitate its transfers. Even then, it was only available in parts of the US and Guatemala.
The pilot seems to have been something of a beta test, with a Meta spokesperson confirming to Bloomberg in an email that the underlying tech would be used in future Meta products. “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 the 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.”
Rather than using Diem, Novi provided transactions in the Paxos Dollar stablecoin, while Coinbase Global Inc safeguarded the funds. All of Diem’s assets were sold in January, with Silvergate Bank reportedly buying up its IP, while the leader of the project quit in November 2021. Financial regulators had been extremely interested in the goings-on. “Despite giving us positive substantive feedback on the design of the network, it nevertheless became clear from our dialogue with federal regulators that the project could not move ahead,” Diem CEO Stuart Levey said in a statement given to CNBC (opens in new tab) at the time of the Silvergate sale.