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Amid the Facebook Novi launch, some federal legislators want the social media giant to discontinue the project.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) has launched the pilot phase of its digital currency wallet Novi in the US and Guatemala using stablecoin Paxos. Facebook finally launches Novi and is going with Paxos’ USDP after its own native crypto Diem failed to secure regulatory approval. Furthermore, the social media giant heralded the pilot launch in a blog post on Tuesday.
Novi’s pilot launch is more than two years after it was first announced. The wallet will facilitate fast, secure, and free fund transfers between users via mobile smartphone apps. However, all users must register with government-issued identification.
For now, Paxos’ stablecoin will serve as Novi’s transactional currency, while powerhouse exchange Coinbase will provide custodial services. According to David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Novi wallet, this pilot phase will, “test core feature functions, and operational capabilities in customer care and compliance.” Furthermore, it will test the viability of stablecoins as a valid and sustainable form of payment.
Facebook Launches Novi to the Disapproval of US Congress
Amid the Facebook Novi launch, some federal legislators are calling for the social media giant to discontinue the project. Senate Democrats addressed a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday questioning the company’s credibility with crypto. In their own words, Facebook “cannot be trusted to manage cryptocurrency”. The senators base this conviction on the social media company’s past inadequacies in handling cyber risks and keeping consumers protected. Signed by Senators Brian Schatz, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, and others, the letter read:
“Facebook is once again pursuing digital currency plans on an aggressive timeline and has already launched a pilot for a payments infrastructure network, even though these plans are incompatible with the actual financial regulatory landscape — not only for Diem specifically, but also for stablecoins in general.”
Part of the Congress letter to Facebook further states:
“We urge you to immediately discontinue your Novi pilot and to commit that you will not bring Diem to market.”
Facebook responded to the Senators’ query through a spokesperson for Novi, suggesting that the company would address the issues raised therein.
Facebook Has a Long-Running History with Federal Lawmakers over Its Operational Practices
In recent times, Zuckerberg and Facebook have locked horns more frequently with Congress. Back in 2019, Congress summoned the Facebook CEO to provide testimony on the Diem project (then called Libra). Zuckerberg’s summoning was the culmination of weeks of tussling, between Facebook and the federal lawmakers, who were skeptical of the project. In addition, the Zuckerberg hearing came just a year after Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. This may have been another reason federal legislators were agitated against the company.
Another recent red flag raised against Facebook was earlier this month from whistleblower Frances Haugen. Haugen appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee to testify on the threat Facebook posed to users. Some of these include the usage of Facebook itself and other affiliated services, such as photo and video-sharing behemoth Instagram.