WhatsApp launches cryptocurrency payments in the US

A ‘limited number’ of people in the US, will be able to send and receive money from within their WhatsApp chat.

The new feature is powered by Novi, Meta’s new digital wallet that launched six weeks ago. Payments will be made using Pax Dollars (USDP), a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar issued by financial services company, Paxos. The token is also regulated by the New York State Department of financial services.

Whatsapp’s Will Cathcart and Novi’s Stephane Kasriel took to Twitter to make the announcement this week.

‘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,’ said Kasriel.

‘People use WA[Whatsapp] to coordinate sending money to loved ones, and now Novi will help them do that securely, instantly and with no fees,’ tweeted Cathcart.

In a series of tweets Kasriel explained, that since Novi’s launch, they’ve been able to ‘test and learn which features and functionality are most important to people’ and focus their efforts on making those even better.

People will be able to access the feature via the paper clip icon on Android or the + icon on iOS, and then select ‘Payment’ from the menu that appears.

Payments will be made instantly and there will be no limits on how often payments can be sent. Novi will charge no fees to maintain a balance in your account or to transfer it to your bank account.

The new feature does not affect WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, which will continue to remain by default for all personal conversations. 

Facebook, now known as Meta, announced its plans for a digital currency called Libra back in 2019. Libra was supposed to be a low-volatility asset that would integrate with a Facebook-developed digital wallet called Calibra to allow people to send money around the world with lower fees than traditional methods.

‘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,’ Novi said in a statement.

‘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,’ it added.

Meta has valued USDP over other cryptos like Ether and Bitcoin because of its stability.

‘USDP reserves are fully backed by the US dollar and are held 100% in cash and cash equivalents,’ said Novi in a statement. This means that people can easily withdraw their money in their local currency when they choose.

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