Facebook is renaming Calibra, the digital wallet it hopes will one day be used to access the Libra digital currencies, Novi. In a blog post the company said that the new name was inspired by the Latin words “novus” and “via,” which mean “new” and “way,” respectively. Novi Financial is the new name of the Facebook subsidiary that will develop the company’s digital wallet.
A new name is just the latest in a series of changes Facebook has made to its digital currency plans, which have faced intense regulatory pressure since their announcement last June. Although Facebook initially said that there would be a single Libra coin pegged to a collection of national currencies, it now plans to have multiple digital coins pegged to individual currencies in addition to a combined Libra currency. Novi’s website says that, initially, these could include currencies like the US dollar, the British pound, and the Euro.
Novi will be a standalone app, but it will also integrate with WhatsApp and Messenger
With the new name, Facebook’s digital wallet is also getting a new logo. Calibra’s original logo generated controversy when it was first announced because of its similarities to the startup bank Current. Novi’s logo ditches this old design in favor of a stylized version of its name, with the Libra logo contained within its “o.”
Despite these changes, Facebook says its mission for Novi and Libra remains the same: it wants to make sending money as easy as “sending a message.” It plans to make both a standalone Novi app as well as a version that integrates with its WhatsApp and Messenger messaging services to let you send money to your contacts. Facebook says that you’ll need to use a government-issued ID to sign up for the service, but it promises this transfer will happen with no hidden fees and that users will have access to 24/7 chat-based support.
Facebook’s digital currency plans have had a bumpy ride since its announcement. It announced the project with a host of partners from the worlds of online finance, e-commerce, and tech. However, as of October last year, a quarter of the Libra Association’s original 28 members had dropped out over apparent regulatory concerns. This year has seen the Libra Association announce new members, however.
A new name is one thing, but the challenges of setting up a digital currency aren’t going anywhere. Facebook did not announce a launch date for Novi or Libra as part of today’s announcement, noting only that an “early version” of Novi will be launched when the Libra network is available.
Update May 26th, 1:45PM ET: Updated with clarification from Facebook that it listed USD, GBP, and EUR on its site as examples of currencies that Libra could be pegged to, rather than as definitive announcements.