Facebook rebrands digital wallet to Novi

Facebook has rebranded its Calibra digital wallet - which will be used to store Libra digital currency - to Novi.

The social media giant said that the name for financial subsidiary Novi Financial had been inspired by the Latin words 'novus' for 'new' and 'via' for 'way'.

David Marcus, head of Novi and former president of PayPal, confirmed that Novi will be integrated with Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp messaging platforms and available as a standalone app.

The digital currency that can be stored in the Novi wallet will retain the name Libra, as will the underlying payments system. Libra is also the name given to the Libra Association, an independent body of payments, technology and financial firms based in Switzerland which is tasked with overseeing the rollout of the digital currency project.

Marcus confirmed there would be “no hidden charges to add, send, receive or withdraw money” from the Novi wallet, and transfers would be available instantly.

The name change comes after months of debate amongst policy makers, governments and central banks over the potential impact of Facebook issuing the Libra digital currency, a blockchain-based stablecoin which can be used to send and receive electronic payments on messaging platforms via the digital wallet.

Critics have raised concerns over the potential for the currency to facilitate money laundering, as well as the wider economic and financial impact of a digital currency owned by a global tech giant.

In the statement, Marcus said that all Novi customers will be verified using government-issued ID, and fraud protections will be “built in throughout the app”. Users will also have 24/7 access to a chat-based support and customer care team.

Marcus said the company plans to roll out an early version of Novi when the Libra network is available in a limited set of countries to test cross-border money transfers.

“Novi Financial was founded with the mission of making money work better for everyone," he added. "We believe that all people around the world should have equal access to financial services - the first product Novi Financial will introduce is the Novi digital wallet designed for Libra, a new payment system which is built on innovative blockchain technology.”

Last month it was announced that the Libra Association had appointed HSBC chief legal officer Stuart Levey as its first chief executive following the Association’s formal move to apply for a Swiss payments licence.

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