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Facebook’s Diem stablecoin and its Novi wallet are one step closer to launch. The company’s payments chief David Marcus indicated that pilots of the cryptocurrency wallet have finally commenced.

Novi Pilot Tests Kick Off In The U.S. And Guatemala

In a recent Twitter thread, Marcus stated that they started a “small pilot” of the Novi crypto wallet today in the United States and Guatemala. The digital wallet allows users to send and receive money across the globe instantly, securely, and with zero fees. The pilots for Novi will utilize dollar-backed stablecoin Pax Dollar (USDP) via collaborations with Paxos and Coinbase.

Coinbase will be providing crypto custody services for the pilot program which is available on the Apple App and Google Play stores. The Paxos dollars that will be purchased on the Novi wallet will be held on deposit via Coinbase custody.

Marcus noted that the purpose of the pilot is to evaluate the wallet’s main features and test operational functionalities, mainly those around compliance and customer service in the real world. Facebook hopes to have the crypto wallet fully tested before it’s opened up to more users.

“We’re also hopeful this will demonstrate a new stablecoin use case (as a payments instrument) beyond how they are typically used today,” he added. According to Marcus, roughly 56% of Guatemalans have no access to financial services despite almost 100% of them own mobile phones.

Marcus then revealed that Big Tech’s mainstay Facebook has not abandoned its Diem payment system. 

“I want to be clear that our support for Diem hasn’t changed and we intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live. We care about interoperability and we want to do it right.”

No Launch Date In Sight For Diem

Diem is an ambitious project from Facebook. But since its inception, the project has been criticized by lawmakers and regulators around the world because of the social media giant’s direct involvement. Indeed, most of the founding members of the Libra Association, including PayPal, Visa MasterCard, eBay, and Stripe left due to the many regulatory roadblocks.

Notably, the project was initially launched as Libra in June 2019 before being rebranded to Diem in December December 2020 in an attempt to distance itself from Facebook and appease regulators. The team behind the project also rebranded the Calibra wallet as “Novi”. Last month, Marcus announced that Novi has been approved in nearly every U.S. state. 

But despite going through the rebrands and over two years of development and delays, there seems no launch on the horizon. Marcus, the Diem Association, and Facebook have so far not issued an expected release date for the stablecoin or wallet.


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