Facebook Rebrands Its Controversial Cryptocurrency Wallet

Facebook Rebrands Its Controversial Cryptocurrency Wallet
Graphic: Facebook

Facebook announced today that it would be completely rebranding the wallet for its long-anticipated cryptocurrency ” perhaps in an attempt to shake off its troubled reputation.

“Today, we’re excited to introduce Novi ” the new name and brand for the digital wallet that will help people send and hold Libra digital currencies,” said Novi’s head, David Marcus, in a company blog post earlier today. “While we’ve changed our name from Calibra, we haven’t changed our long-term commitment to helping people around the world access affordable financial services.”

Calibra, as the wallet was initially called, was introduced by the company last year as a companion for the company’s planned cryptocurrency, Libra. The new name change comes after a period of relative calm for the company’s crypto efforts, following a torrent of critiques from multiple federal bodies, a lawsuit over its logo, and defunding from more than a few of its chief investors. What better time to do a little rebranding than when an all-consuming coronavirus pandemic overwhelms the news cycle?

The blog post didn’t give a reason for the name change to Novi, though per Marcus, the name was “inspired” by the Latin words “novus” for “new” and “via” for “way.”

“It’s a new way to send money, and Novi’s new visual identity and design represent the fluid movement of digital currencies,” he explained. The change also offers the wallet a new identity that’s entirely separate from Libra’s controversies thus far. Another reason the company might want to divest the identity of the currency and the wallet proper: unlike Libra (which is run by the nonprofit Libra Association), the Novi wallet is a tool that’s both owned and operated by Facebook proper. That means ” if the worst comes to the worst, and Libra ultimately goes belly-up ” this wallet could be used independently of the cryptocurrency via support for say, a digital currency that’s popular.

As other reporters have previously pointed out, one of Libra’s biggest selling points as a currency is its potential in developing countries, which is where the currency ” and the upcoming wallet ” will be rolled out. Per Marcus, when the wallet debuts in these countries, it’ll come with “features that will make cross-border money transfers instant, secure, and with no hidden fees,” along with integrations into Whatsapp and Messenger.

Though the exact launch date is somewhat in limbo until the aforementioned regulatory issues are ironed out, the steps to secure a new name ” and a new identity ” suggests that this debut might be sooner than we think.