Social media giant Facebook is rebranding a key component of its Libra cryptocurrency project, giving its wallet provider a new name and look, the firm said in a press release on 26 May.
According to the announcement, the company’s digital wallet, previously known as Calibra, will from now on be called Novi, a name derived from the Latin words “novus” (new) and “via” (way). David Marcus, the Head of Novi, said in the press release that the wallet’s new design is meant to represent the “fluid movement of digital currencies”. The reason behind the rebranding, Marcus said, was that the old name was a bit “too close” to the name of the Libra project.
He also stated that:
“While we’ve changed our name from Calibra, we haven’t changed our long-term commitment to helping people around the world access affordable financial services.”
The company did not only announce the name and brand change, but also shed some light on how the product will work. The Novi wallet can be used as a standalone application, as well as in Facebook’s social messaging apps Messenger and WhatsApp. The firm further claims that sending funds with Novi will be as “easy as sending a message”, and that transactions will not only arrive instantly, but have no “hidden charges”.
Novi further revealed that all of its customers will be verified using government-issued IDs, and that fraud protections will be built throughout the app. The digital wallet will be the first product of a new Facebook subsidiary, Novi Financial, which will operate independently from the social media giant. While its release date has not been clarified, the company did say that it hopes to release an “early version of Novi when the Libra network is available”.
The Facebook-led Libra project has suffered a number of setbacks since its white paper was released last June. Only weeks after it went public with its intention to create a new global payment service based around blockchain technology, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services wrote an open letter to Facebook, requesting the company pauses development of Libra.
Due to pressure from regulators, several major backers of the project, like Visa, Mastercard and Stripe, withdrew their support in October. Since then, Libra had to change its plans to create a single stablecoin backed by a basket of currencies, and will now develop a number of stablecoins, each representing a different fiat currency. Probably in an attempt to smooth its path to launch, the project has been on a hiring spree of ex-U.S. government officials, most notably hiring two former FinCEN staffers in the past weeks.