WhatsApp’s New Cryptocurrency Allows US Users to Pay From Within a Chat

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

WhatsApp has introduced a new trial program that allows a “limited number” of individuals in the United States to transfer funds using cryptocurrencies from within a chat. 

Novi, Meta’s digital wallet that launched as a trial six weeks ago, powers the functionality, with payments sent in Pax Dollars (USDP), a stablecoin tied to the US dollar produced by Paxos. Novi’s new CEO, Stephane Kasriel, announced the launch alongside WhatsApp’s Will Cathcart. 

Easy Tap-to-send Payments

According to Novi’s homepage, sending a payment works similarly to sending any other file on WhatsApp. You may access the function by tapping the paper clip symbol on Android or the Plus icon on iOS and then choosing “Payment” from the appearing menu. 

Send and Receive Money for Free

According to Novi’s website:

  • There are no costs for receiving or transferring funds, 
  • No restrictions on how frequently payments may be transferred, 
  • No fees to have a balance in your Novi account or to transfer cash to your bank account. 

Plus, the funds are sent immediately.

The Novi trial was initially popular in the United States and Guatemala, but according to WABetaInfo, Guatemalan users will not be able to enjoy the newfangled WhatsApp payments capabilities. Rather, users from the region must continue relying on the solitary Novi app. 

Payments have no impact on WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, normally activated automatically for all private chats. Users can access WhatsApp Novi in both English and Spanish. 

The Efforts Date Back to 2019

The new prototype is based on Meta’s (formerly Facebook’s) much-touted crypto initiatives unveiled in 2019. 

Back then, Facebook (working under the Libra Association) intended to create and roll out a digital currency called Libra, which would be tied to a variety of low-volatility assets instead of a single currency. 

This would be compatible with Calibra, a digital wallet created by Facebook. The entire system was designed to provide a means to transfer funds worldwide at a lesser cost than existing methods.

Last Words

While WhatsApp’s payment methods in the United States concentrate around Novi and crypto, it already accepts ordinary fiat currencies in other parts of the world. The function rolled out last year in India and is now available in Brazil.