WhatsApp rolls out cryptocurrency pilot in US

The initiative, supported by Meta’s digital wallet Novi, will let users send and receive digital currency free of charge within a chat

With Novi on WhatsApp, users can transfer money instantly without leaving their chat. PA

Meta-owned WhatsApp has rolled out a new pilot project that allows a “limited number of people” in the US to send and receive money from within a chat using cryptocurrency.

The initiative is supported by the Meta (formerly known as Facebook) digital wallet, Novi, that was launched as a pilot about six weeks ago.

“There's a new way to try the Novi digital wallet. Starting today, a limited number of people in the US will be able to send and receive money using Novi on WhatsApp, making sending money to family and friends as easy as sending a message,” Novi’s head Stephane Kasriel said on Twitter.

“Since we introduced the Novi pilot just six weeks ago, we’ve been able to test and learn which features and functionality are most important to people and focus our efforts on making those even better,” Mr Kasriel added.

With Novi on WhatsApp, users can transfer money instantly without leaving their chat. They can log into their existing Novi account or create a new account to use this service, the company said.

To ensure the privacy of users, Novi encrypts sensitive financial information and the documents users upload, like photo IDs, addresses and bank details.

Novi has built-in controls and 24/7 account monitoring that help detect and flag suspicious activity.

“If we determine a transaction is unauthorised, we will provide a full refund back to your Novi balance,” Novi said.

“We often hear that people use WhatsApp to co-ordinate sending money to loved ones and Novi enables people to do that securely, instantly and with no fees. Payments will appear directly in people’s chat,” said Mr Kasriel.

“We’re still very early in the Novi pilot journey, so we made the decision to test this new entry point in one country to start with and will look to extend it once we’ve heard from people what they think of this new experience.”

When users add money to their Novi account, the company converts it to USDP (Pax Dollar), a stable digital currency issued by Paxos Trust, a regulated financial institution.

USDP is designed to have a stable value relative to the US dollar, so on Novi, 1 USDP is equal to $1.

Currently, using Novi on WhatsApp has no fees for sending or receiving money and no limits on how frequently users can send money.

Start using Novi on WhatsApp

  • In WhatsApp, find the contact you'd like to send money to and open your chat
  • Tap the paper clip icon on Android or the + icon on iOS
  • Select “Payment” in the menu
  • Follow on-screen instructions to log into your Novi account or create a new one
  • Start sending and receiving money
Updated: December 9th 2021, 4:26 PM