Facebook decided to rebrand and rename the initial Calibra cryptocurrency wallet as the now new Novi cryptocurrency wallet. According to Facebook, the name Novi was inspired by the Latin words “novus” for “new” and “via” for “way.” according to the press release issued by the company on May 26th, 2020.
Libra, as of the date of publishing is not yet available for public use, but according to the information, Novi will be the first (and perhaps only) wallet that will be used with the Libra cryptocurrency.
The wallet is presented as an easy-to-use integration that will be compatible with all of Facebook’s products, i.e. Messenger, Whatsapp, and a proprietary Novi application. It is expected that sending and receiving money through the Novi wallet will be free of charge, with no hidden costs.
The statements made by the company in their press release beg the question to understand how Facebook or its subsidiary will profit from the Novi wallet and implementation of the Libra cryptocurrency. At this time it is unclear whether they are even planning on making a profit, or simply paving the way forward to remain the best and most popular social media website on the planet.
Novi users will be verified through government-issued IDs and the platform promises full customer support and fraud protection. On top of that it issues a variety of different privacy promises, the most notable being that “Novi is a regulated financial company from Facebook that will keep your account and financial data confidential and secure. Your Novi transaction history will only be visible to you.” which we find hard to believe.
The company has had it’s own set of issues in regards to the launching of the Libra network and Calibra cryptocurrency wallet, which was cut short by interference from security regulation units, as well as internal investor dynamics. From the 28 financial backers for the Libra project, only 18 remain. The others backtracked on their investment fearing intense regulatory scrutiny and did not want to be publicly associated with Libra or Novi.
Facebook touts Novi as the fastest, safest, and cheapest way for individuals and businesses to store, send and receive money globally. Whether it will become a reality at all is a mystery at the moment. Regardless of Facebook’s optimism, this project may very well be dead in the water. However, we do know that these companies usually get what they want to get, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if we see our neighbors, family and friends ask us to pay with Novi for a future transaction.
Compared to non-cryptocurrency based solutions, Novi is definitely a step up. However, compared to the decentralized nature of current cryptocurrency systems, there are many red flags for the privacy-minded individual.
If successful, Novi may become the nominal way for most people to exchange money, but it will never be able to substitute “real” decentralized cryptocurrency.