Facebook Launches ‘Novi,’ a Digital Wallet Pilot App That Could Help Millions of Immigrants in the U.S.

Novi Facebook BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of about.fb.com

Amid the Facebook Papers scandal, the social networking giant seems not to be sitting idly by. Just last week, Facebook launched its digital wallet pilot application Novi to affirm its “operational readiness.”

As the company said in a press release, the Novi app aims to help people send and receive money abroad instantly, securely, and without fees.

“Whether someone is sending money from the U.S. to a loved one in Guatemala or paying back a friend nearby, it’s as easy as sending a message,” Facebook explained.

Novi’s initiative aims to address access to foreign currency for the estimated 1.7 billion adults who do not have access to a bank account. Facebook says it is a strategy to help the most vulnerable people.

“Being shut out of the global financial system has real consequences for people’s lives, and it’s often the most underserved people who pay the highest price,” the platform explained. “Costs are high, and waits are long when people want to send money to their families internationally.”

“The current system is failing them, and there is no digital financial architecture to support the innovation we need,” Facebook added.

People sending remittances pay an average of 6.5% in fees, and a typical transaction takes three to five business days. Now, with the pilot launch of Novi in Guatemala and the United States, many Guatemalan families will be relieved to help their loved ones.

After two years of development, Novi is testing in the United States and Guatemala, where a limited number of users will be able to send and receive money instantly, commission-free.

Building on the design formerly known as Calibra, Facebook worked with the Libra blockchain-based payment system in 2019. Now, in collaboration with Coinbase, Novi could have limited global capacity, keeping funds secure through crypto transaction management software.

Novi will operate with the Pax Dollar (USDP) stablecoin, as the Diem cryptocurrency (formerly called Libra), proposed by Facebook, has not yet been approved by the government.

The company selected the USDP stablecoin to test the system with one that has been operating successfully for more than three consecutive years, as well as for its “significant regulatory and consumer protection attributes” — not to mention the fact that its reserves are fully backed by the U.S. dollar, in cash, or cash equivalents.

To try Novi, users must download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store and sign up with a valid government-issued ID. 

Also, the Novi Customer Care team has an in-app chat in English and Spanish, available 24/7.