Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has undergone several changes since the year began. The company, which also owns social media apps Instagram and Whatsapp, has made moves to include cryptocurrency into their services as they are set to be a key player in the new metaverse.
In a recent report, Whatsapp users in the United States can now transfer and accept funds using the Novi wallet, thanks to the expansion of a trial program for the crypto payment service developed by Meta.
Novi’s CEO, Stephane Kasriel, claimed late Wednesday on Twitter that just a small number of individuals on WhatsApp had access to exchanging money digitally with Novi. Novi, Kasriel claimed, makes sending money to family and friends as simple as sending a text message. Novi’s website also included a notification regarding the extended US tests.
Novi, a separate software similar to WhatsApp, is developed to send and receive money internationally and instantaneously with no costs. Payments are made in Pax Dollars, or USDP, a stablecoin launched in 2018 with a fixed value to the US dollar and completely backed reserves of cash and currency equivalents.
How to use Novi on WhatsApp
Simply follow these instructions to begin using Novi on WhatsApp:
Open the chat with the person you’d like to give money to on WhatsApp.
On your iPhone, press the Plus button.
In the menu, choose Payment.
To log in or create a new Novi account, follow the on-screen instructions.
Begin receiving and sending money.
A few months ago, then-Facebook started a “limited” test program for Novi in Guatemala and some regions of the United States, claiming that the service might help reach a section of the world’s 1.7 billion adults without access to a bank account. Novi is also partnering with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to provide custody services for its customers’ assets.
In October, a group of Democratic senators called on Mark Zuckerberg, the creator, and CEO of Facebook, to halt the launch of Novi, claiming that the firm could not be trusted to run a payment system or digital currency.
Meta to Continue its Expansion
Novi, according to Facebook, is just getting started. To begin with, it is only available as a pilot for a select group of users in Guatemala and the United States except for Alaska, Nevada, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Second, Facebook and the Diem Association have not ruled out the possibility of launching their own cryptocurrency in the future.
In a post on Twitter, Novi project lead David Marcus said, “I do want to be clear that our support for Diem hasn’t changed and we intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live. We care about interoperability and we want to do it right.”
In June of this year, Facebook announced the Libra cryptocurrency. Since then, the crypto industry has altered dramatically. Some stablecoins, in particular, have grown in popularity to the point where Tether and USD Coins currently have a combined circulating supply of more than $100 billion.
Kakao, a South Korean internet company known mostly for it’s messaging application has made tremendous progress for its Blockchain and Crypto unit. A whopping $90 million has been raised through a private coin offering. Ground X is working towards another $90 to $100 million in order to further develop its Blockchain platform.
Kakao’s Dominance In South Korea’ Tech World
Kakao was established in 2014 and gained prominence from KakaoTalk which is a free mobile instant messaging application for smartphones. KakaoTalk has 220 million registered users and 47 million active monthly users.
Kakao’s Blockchain unit Ground X Corp dubbed Klaytn could help Kakao in establishing itself in Blockchain at a time when it’s creating a buzz and gaining a lot of ground. KakaoTalk also has plans for utilising the Blockchain platform. Ground X Corp has already partnered up with 26 companies such as popular game developer Wemade Entertainment Co. to run applications on the platform.
The Rise of Messaging Applications on Blockchain
Whatsapp and Telegram, which are both the most popular messaging applications currently used have already shown an active interest in Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.
Telegram especially has made an enormous impact in the ICO market, with $1.7 billion raised last year, while Whatsapp coin is reported to be launched later this year. Whatsapp is reported to roll out a digital currency pegged to the US Dollar and will be used in India first for the huge population to send money to and fro the messaging platform.
Ground X currently has offices in South Korea and Japan and is working towards achieving mass adoption of Blockchain services. Further plans of working with the Seoul Digital Foundation, which is part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government will help gradually decentralise Korea’s governmental services.
The cryptocurrency community has been quite enthusiastic about a particular piece of news, as it appears as though Facebook might be developing its own cryptocurrency. This is quite the catalyst, as Facebook does boast over 2 billion monthly active users, meaning that this is much more than simply a social media platform utilizing cryptocurrency – it gives the opportunity for a significant portion of the world to participate in a blockchain ecosystem.
The news comes off the heels of the fact that Facebook has been aggressively hiring blockchain engineers, so it didnt come as a complete surprise. The description for the job listings were quite cryptic: The blockchain team is a startup within Facebook, with a vision to make blockchain technology work at Facebook scale. Were exploring areas of interest across all facets of blockchain technology. Our ultimate goal is to help billions of people with access to things they dont have now that could be things like equitable financial services, new ways to save, or new ways to share information.
Rumors Floating Around
Specifically, Facebook apparently is developing a stablecoin for Whatsapp, which it purchased for $22 billion in 2014, in arguably its most high-profile acquisition ever. The project is meant to disrupt the remittance industry, which is already worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
A Zilliqa enthusiast on Twitter by the name of Oliver Bell has pointed out that Zilliqa might actually be involved with the Facebook cryptocurrency. In a tweet that has circulated around the cryptocurrency community, he stated that there might be an extensive level of collaboration regarding Zilliqa and Facebook:
Rumour going around regarding Facebook building on $ZIL: • Evan Cheng: Zilliqa advisor & head of blockchain at FB • Mindshare partnership: FB is a partner of Mindshare • Ex-Facebook head of blockchain quits Coinbase to avoid conflict of interest: ZIL gets listed on Coinbase
Zilliqa did recently, and many believe that its because of the Facebook rumors. However, unfortunately for Zilliqa investors – there has been a development. The official Zilliqa Twitter account has denied the rumors completely. The account tweeted that not only were the rumors false, but advocated for supporters to stop sharing the rumor, as well. Many praised Zilliqa for its transparency regarding the response, as well. Zilliqa is a blockchain platform that is known for its scalability, and is currently the 32nd largest cryptocurrency project in the world, with a market capitalization over $200 million (as of press time).
Specifically, Zilliqa tweeted: We have been made aware of a rumour that has been circulating on a potential collaboration with Facebook. This is a baseless rumour and we would like to ask everyone to refrain from sharing fake information on social media. The tweet garnered over 150 retweets and over 400 likes. You can find the tweet below:
We have been made aware of a rumour that has been circulating on a potential collaboration with Facebook. This is a baseless rumour and we would like to ask everyone to refrain from sharing fake information on social media.
In the age of data privacy and cybersecurity concerns, encrypted chat services like WhatsApp and Telegram just seem like a smart move. Where Facebook messenger sells the contents of your private conversations to advertising services and research groups for their own purposes, encrypted apps aim to protect your data and allow you to have private, secure conversations with friends and colleagues.
So far, WhatsApp and Telegram have been leading the charge in the battle for mobile chat privacy, but a new DApp looks set to rival and perhaps even overtake the two.
Promether’s first viable product is die in Q4 of this year and it’s called Contact, an end-to-end encrypted DApp which will run on the Promether blockchain. So first thing’s first – what is Promether?
We actually covered Promether in a recent article here on CryptoIsComing, so I’ll keep this recap short and sweet.
Promether is a blockchain security firm founded by Eric Anderson, the former lead programmer for projects like GTA V and Guitar Hero and a prominent figure in hacking and programming circles. Anderson is the founder and CEO, and launched Promether to combat and help eliminate online surveillance. The company provides blockchain solutions to other blockchain DApps, and now they’re launching their first MVP (minimum viable product) – Contact.
The project is partnered with HOLO and unlike most blockchain firms, Promether will release their MVP and native blockchain before ever crowdfunding from the public.
Contact is the MVP set to disrupt online chat apps. Promether aims to establish itself as a secure communications platform via the DApp which will launch alongside a built-in decentralized VPN network and a programmable API for developers.
The truly secure VOIP/messenger will work with Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, OSX, and any IoT/embedded device, like the Raspberry Pi.
This sounds like a rather ambitious goal to set before an ICO even gets off the ground, but the effort to launch products before crowdfunding is commendable and the combination of private funding and a highly experienced programmer as the CEO should help offset any concerns about the viability of Promether’s roadmap goals.
Contact will be powered by the Promether network, fully decentralized, and built on top of open source software designed to protect the privacy of every individual through decentralized distribution protocols, flexible encryption, and advanced privacy functions.
Contact features will include encrypted group chat (such as dynamic group membership via NFC/QR Codes), audio/video streaming, secure messaging, VOIP, file sharing, sync, multi-device with identity, perfect forward secrecy (PFS), cross-platform/app communication, private file storage, video calls, conference calls, and message and account/identity self-destruction functions.
The platform also aims to enable interoperable integration – this would allow Contact to be able to exchange information/content/value/data with other applications on the network through the API.
Contact users will have flexibility in choosing how messages are stored, with features to store everything in-memory (RAM) (which makes data almost unrecoverable once deleted), offline, or distributed around the world. Between the self-destruct feautures and the data erasure capabilities, Contact is clearly geared very much with high-level security and privacy in mind.
Because the application is powered by the Promether network, all data storage functionalities are decentralized which adds another layer of security and privacy – data distributed across multiple nodes means no central point of weakness for hackers to exploit.
Comparison to other services
At this point it might be useful to compare Contact to Telegram and WhatsApp. Does Contact sound impressive? Yes, that level of security sounds good and if the DApp works as intended then it has a very strong use case.
But don’t Telegram and WhatsApp already offer most if not all of this?
Let’s compare the two competitors to each other first.
Telegram Vs WhatsApp
Telegram offers end-to-end encryption – while this has since been adopted by WhatsApp, the encryption used by Telegram is considered to be more secure and Telegram users may send secret messages which disappear after a set amount of time and also disallow screenshots of conversations, neither of which are an option on WhatsApp.
All Telegram activity is cloud-linked, which increases file storage capacity significantly while arguably compromising on security.
WhatsApp has the current advantage of having an enormous userbase of around 1.3 billion users, ten times that of Telegram. WhatsApp also has a more diverse range of features than Telegram, allowing users to send status updates via text or video as well as allowing font formatting popular on social media platforms like strikethrough, bold, italic, etc.
On WhatsApp you may invite 256 people to a group; Telegram allows 10,000. Telegram and WhatsApp each let you send files to contacts, but Telegram is better in this aspect because it hosts files up to 1.5 GB each (WhatsApp limits files to 16 MB). What are the stats on Contact?
At this time, we’re not sure yet – there are a number of questions about specific Contact feautres that are not yet known at this time despite it being very close to launch. One thing that is certain, however, is where Contact wins.
Where Contact Wins
Contact beats its two main competitors on security hands down. Unlike the other two, no information is stored on the cloud or a backup service. It’s not necessary to enter your phone number to use Contact, and the app can bypass censorship tools like the Great Firewall of China. The level of anti-surveillance features and security measures are perhaps unparalleled by any other publicly available chat service. Obviously, there already exist highly secure ways of communicating online – PGP encryption, darknet email services, etc.
However, Contact isn’t going to be an obscure onion site for highly tech-literate data security geeks – Promether aims to launch an app that will satisfy social media needs of regular users while providing them with all of the security features mentioned in the article and perhaps some more besides that as well.
While the DApp is still in development, it’s due out at the end of the year. A decentralized service with secure encryption and multiple, modifiable safety features designed to protect and even remotely destroy your data if necessary, keeping your personal data out of the hands of the growing community of organized black-hat data miners, identity thieves, and hackers which continue to bombard social media with their attacks in an effort to access private financial and sensitive personal information.
While Promether still haven’t released most of the specifics about the app, you can stay updated via the project’s Telegram or Twitter.