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WhatsApp launches crypto-powered mobile payments in the U.S.

WhatsApp has launched a digital payments pilot in the U.S., allowing a limited number of people to send and receive money with the same ease they would a regular message. This payment feature is powered by the Meta-owned Novi digital wallet service, which uses Pax Dollars (USDP) to facilitate transfers, and they all go through instantly.

Meta launched Novi back in 2020, saying, “With Novi, sending money will be as easy as sending a message. You’ll be able to use Novi as a stand-alone app, as well as in Messenger and WhatsApp. There will be no hidden charges to add, send, receive or withdraw money, and your transfers will arrive instantly. All Novi customers will be verified using government-issued ID, and fraud protections will be built in throughout the app.”

New in the US: use your @Novi digital wallet to send and receive money right within a @WhatsApp chat. People use WA to coordinate sending money to loved ones, and now Novi will help them do that securely, instantly and with no fees.

— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) December 8, 2021

Novi says the WhatsApp integration means you can either log in to your Novi account with WhatsApp or create a Novi account directly from the app. Either way, you’ll need an account to get going, and making one is easy. Accessing Novi in WhatsApp, if you’re one of those who have access, works like sending any old attachment. Just tap the Paper Clip button, select Payment, enter the amount, and send it.

As for the USPD currency being used, it’s a stablecoin — a cryptocurrency that’s doesn’t fluctuate much and is backed by the regular U.S. dollar to prevent fluctuation and fraud. This means you can expect 1 USPD to equal 1 USD, so what you send and what you can expect to be received should always be in sync. The Pax Dollar is being used as part of a partnership with Paxos and Coinbase by Meta, even though the company already had its own Diem cryptocurrency. In October, the head of Novi, David Marcus, said the company was simply waiting for regulatory approval, and this is likely the current status quo.

Meta initially rolled out a pilot for Novi in the U.S. and Guatemala in October. While today’s pilot includes the U.S., the new WhatsApp functionality does not extend to Guatemala at this time, as spotted by WABetaInfo.

Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
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