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Facebook releases pilot version of biometrics-backed digital wallet app Novi

Facebook releases pilot version of biometrics-backed digital wallet app Novi

Facebook has officially released the first pilot of the Novi digital wallet app with biometric onboarding in Guatemala and the U.S.

According to the company, the pilot will help the company assess the app’s market readiness via customer care responses, a compliance program and core feature functions testing.

Novi has been developed to enable fee-free, cross-country money transfers. The current pilot of the app relies on Paxos and Coinbase infrastructures to execute international payments using USDP (Pax Dollar).

Novi is already available on the Apple App Store and Google Play in a pilot version. Users can sign up to Novi using a valid government ID and a video selfie, then add money to their account via a debit card. A video selfie biometric comparison is used to verify the identity of the applicant and meet regulatory requirements, or users can opt for a manual review. Face biometric templates will be deleted within 24 hours of the verification process, the company says.

They will then be able to complete transfers via the app to other Novi users in their contact lists.

“We chose USDP so that we can test our system with a stablecoin that has been operating successfully for over three years and that has important regulatory and consumer protection attributes,” the social media giant said in a press release.

The company also said it temporarily sidestepped the use of Diem Blockchain, upon which it had originally said Novi would be based, but confirmed it intends to migrate the app to the Diem ecosystem once it receives regulatory approval. This will allow the app to be truly interoperable with other digital wallets.

Novi is a regulated financial company from Facebook, but the company said it has strict controls in place to limit what is shared with other Facebook Companies, and that the Novi app does not allow third-party ads.

The tech giants specified a Facebook account is not necessary to use Novi, but if users have one, it will be used to help verify their identity.

To ease customers’ concerns, Facebook also confirmed Novi has built-in protection against fraud and 24/7 monitoring via the app to help detect and flag suspicious activity.

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