Meta pulls the plug on Novi, the last standing piece of Zuckerberg’s stablecoin dream

Three years ago, in June 2019, Facebook announced plans to create its own digital currency, back then known as Libra. The social media giant was optimistic on what the future held and even projected that Libra would be fully operational in the first half of 2020. Those plans didn’t pan out, and now, the company has announced it will be pulling the plug on Novi, the last standing facet of its stablecoin plans.

In an announcement on its website, Novi, the wallet to be used for Libra (later Diem), announced that it would be shutting down on September 1. Starting on July 21, users will no longer be able to deposit funds into their wallets.

It urged users to withdraw their funds before then, either by transferring them to their bank accounts or withdrawing them as cash where applicable. Users can also download and keep a copy of their transactions and activity on Novi.

Meta (NASDAQ: META) launched the pilot for Novi, formerly known as Calibra, in October 2021. The pilot catered to a small group of users in Guatemala and the United States. It later expanded this pilot in the U.S., allowing a select number of users to send and receive funds via WhatsApp, powered by Novi.

While a step in the right direction for Meta, the launch was a far cry from the ambitious project that Mark Zuckerberg had announced in 2019. Additionally, Meta ended up abandoning its plan of having its own stablecoin, Diem, and ended up partnering with Paxos and using its USDP stablecoin. As CoinGeek reported in January, the company ended up selling all its Diem assets to Silvergate Bank for $200 million.

But even this scaled-down version of Novi has received a lot of criticism and opposition from regulators, many of whom are uncomfortable with handing monetary responsibility to a company that has been found to disregard basic consumer data protection and privacy.

Meta sees a silver lining even with this blow, telling Bloomberg in a statement that it intends to use the experience gained through Novi and Diem elsewhere.

“We are already leveraging the years spent on building capabilities for Meta overall on blockchain and introducing new products, such as digital collectibles. You can expect to see more from us in the web3 space because we are very optimistic about the value these technologies can bring to people and businesses in the metaverse,” it said.

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