U.S. markets open in 2 hours 25 minutes

Facebook renames controversial cryptocurrency wallet to 'Novi'

Anthony Cuthbertson
An image from one of the Facebook Libra scam pages on the social network: Facebook

Facebook has once again made changes to the controversial Libra cryptocurrency project following widespread criticism.

The technology giant announced a new name for the Calibra digital wallet, which is being developed to store and spend digital currencies.

Calibra will now be known as Novi and will support a series of so-called stablecoins, which are tied to traditional currencies.

Facebook said that the name Novi was inspired by the Latin words 'novus' for 'new' and 'via' for 'way'.

"With Novi, sending money will be as easy as sending a message," the company said in a blog post introducing the rebranding.

"You'll be able to use Novi as a stand-alone app, as well as in Messenger and WhatsApp. There will be no hidden charges to add, send, receive or withdraw money and your transfers will arrive instantly."

Customers will be verified using government-issued ID in order to prevent fraud. Other security protections will also be built-in to the app, Facebook said.

Facebook first announced its Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra wallet almost a year ago, initially stating that it would be launched in 2020.

The project has faced significant scrutiny from financial regulators, with some warning that it could pose a threat to sovereign currency.

In December, the Swiss president said that Libra had "failed" in its current form, as it would not be accepted by central banks.

This has led to delays with its roll out, as major partners like PayPal and Mastercard withdrew from the project.

There is still no definitive release date for Libra and Novi, though Facebook said that an early version would appear before widespread launch.

"We'll roll it out in an initial set of countries, with features that will make cross-border money transfers instant, secure, and with no hidden fees," the firm said.

Read more

Facebook Libra's promise of financial inclusion 'doesn't sound right'