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WhatsApp pilots crypto payments in the US with Novi

A limited number of people will be able to use the digital wallet to make cryptocurrency payments in WhatsApp chats.

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Angela Lang/CNET

WhatsApp, the popular messaging app, is rolling out a new way to send and receive money. A limited number of people in the US will be able to exchange cryptocurrency through the digital wallet Novi directly within their WhatsApp chat.

Novi, a project of Meta, the recently rebranded parent company of WhatsApp and Facebook, was piloted on its own in Guatemala and parts of the US earlier this year. The pilot allowed users to make payments with the cryptocurrency pax dollar. Meta continues to work toward launching its own cryptocurrency, diem.

Meta's progress toward launching diem has faced setbacks including opposition from US senators and early backers leaving the project. Novi says that it's still committed to diem and that the cryptocurrency is part of the long-term plans for the digital wallet. 

David Marcus, the outgoing head of Novi, said in a tweet that the WhatsApp pilot "another small step in the right direction," adding that it's "the best farewell gift."

Stephane Kasriel, the incoming head of Novi, called the pilot an "entry point" in a tweet and said that the company will look to expand after receiving feedback.