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WhatsApp Will Integrate Cryptocurrencies

The eye-opening news this morning is that WhatsApp has started testing a feature that will allow select US users to send cryptocurrencies within the messaging application. The Verge had a great article outlining the pilot program:

“WhatsApp has launched a new pilot that lets a “limited number” of people in the US send and receive money from within a chat using cryptocurrency.

The feature is powered by Novi, Meta’s digital wallet that launched as a pilot six weeks ago, with payments made using Pax Dollars (USDP), a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar issued by Paxos. The news was announced by Novi’s incoming head Stephane Kasriel and WhatsApp’s Will Cathcart.

According to Novi’s website, sending a payment works much like sending any other attachment in WhatsApp. You access the feature via the paper clip icon on Android or the + icon on iOS, and then select “Payment” from the menu that appears. Novi’s site notes there are no fees for sending or receiving money, no limits on how often payments can be sent, and no fees to keep a balance in your Novi account or to withdraw it to your bank account. Payments are transferred instantly.”


This is a really big deal because WhatsApp boasts more than 2 billion users as of October 2021. They won’t all be able to use the feature for some time, but the messaging app could become one of the largest onboarding channels for users into crypto if the roll out is successful.

You may remember that a prior announcement from Meta (Facebook) explained that they were piloting the use of a dollar stablecoin with their Novi digital wallet. That was being done between the US and Guatemala. The friction was relatively high though because it required users to download and exclusively use the Novi wallet.

The WhatsApp integration of the Novi wallet obviously reduces the friction for users in a material way. The less consumer behavior change you have to rely on, the more effective your product will be. There is an important detail about cryptocurrencies that is being exposed by this WhatsApp announcement though.

The internet made information effortless, instant, and inexpensive to send or receive. Cryptocurrencies are doing the exact same thing for money. Once you understand that similarity, it becomes apparent that every messaging application is going to integrate cryptocurrencies. They may differ in which assets they choose to support — some will use bitcoin, some will use stablecoins, and some will use something else — but they are all going to incorporate the functionality of frictionless money and information.

In the digital world, money is simply information. WhatsApp is quite literally making it as simply as adding an attachment to a message. If you can text, you can transact now. That is a very, very powerful thing. If you extrapolate this example out a decade or so, it would be incredible to see hundreds of millions of people who are unbanked have the ability to interact with financial services via the same application that they use to talk to friends and family.

This feels inevitable. There is a massive race underway. You have crypto startups, crypto incumbents, fintech startups, fintech incumbents, and legacy financial firms all competing to see who can onboard more users into the new digital world. Regardless of who wins, the end users are the ultimate winner. We get more people into the digital financial system and give them opportunity to leverage financial services that historically were reserved for people in the developed world.

The impact of this will be hard to understand at the moment. We are essentially arming a global population with money services. My guess is that we will be surprised by what they are able to accomplish once they are empowered.

There are plenty of people who don’t like Facebook/Meta, but it is hard to be upset about a product with 2+ billion people driving adoption of digital wallets.

Today they support a stablecoin.

Tomorrow they will likely support every type of asset. It is just a matter of time. Hope you all have a great day. I’ll talk to everyone tomorrow.


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