Facebook recently announced at the company’s Connect event that it has changed its name to Meta. Many people may be a little curious about the word Meta, which means beyond in Latin. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a letter published to accompany the event, “I used to study Classics, and the word “meta” comes from the Greek word meaning “beyond”. For me, it symbolizes that there is always more to build, and there is always a next chapter to the story.”
At the same time, Facebook announced that it would soon change its NASDAQ stock ticker symbol from FB to MVSE starting on December 1. As reported in The Verge, which first interviewed Zuckerberg in July, the change in name is in part motivated by a strategic shift from being known primarily as a social media company to focus the metaverse plans. This is reflected in the reporting of financial results, rather than the company’s structure, splitting between apps and metaverse related products.
Facebook is not just changing its name. “All of our products, including our apps, now share a new vision: to help bring the metaverse to life. And now we have a name that reflects the breadth of what we do,” confirmed Zuckerberg.
But is that the full story behind the shift? Indeed, there’s speculation that a primary goal may be to make its crypto wallet Novi a game-changer. Currently, Novi is pitched as simply a “digital wallet that helps people send and receive money internationally — instantly, securely, and with no fees”.
But if the plan works, Novi may become the digital interface for all encrypted assets, from cryptocurrencies to NFTs, in the metaverse that Meta is planning to create.
Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook as a brand was stuck in the past being regarded as a social media company. Put simply, the renamed Meta now represents more than a re-skinned Facebook concept.
“Right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything we’re doing today, let alone in the future. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” says Zuckerberg.
Now Facebook is just one of Meta's suite of products:
WhatsApp – messaging app
Oculus VR -- virtual reality (VR)
Onavo -- mobile network analytics
Beluga -- messenger service
Instagram -- photo and video-sharing app
Whether Meta's goal is to become the backbone of the crypto field or replicate the success of crypto-asset exchanges, Meta hopes to join the crypto field based on Zuckerberg's remarks. Facebook recently announced a pilot project in collaboration with Coinbase and Paxos. They enticed users to try it by promoting Facebook's digital wallet, Novi, to users in the US and Guatemala shortly before the name change announcement in October. The aim is to allow the business to “evaluate the wallet’s core functions and showcase operational capabilities, specifically those around customer service and compliance. Novi is also being designed for interoperability with other digital wallets,” according to a report in Cointelegraph.
As early as 2019, Facebook attempted to enter the crypto field by launching its own token Libra, but it ultimately failed. Finally, under the combined pressure of the US Central Bank and policymakers, the token was forced to cancel. Libra was later tweaked, relaunched, and renamed Diem. The spokesperson stated that the company has not abandoned support for the Diem network, a permissionless payment system that is still awaiting the green light from Washington. “We intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live,” the spokesperson told Cointelegraph.
It may be surprising that the Novi project has been heavily criticized by some US senators who oppose Facebook's relaunch of cryptocurrency and digital wallets. But the response from Diem, the associated stablecoin project, shows how challenging these organizational changes maybe for regulators and lawmakers. In response to the letter calling on Facebook to halt its stablecoin and crypto wallet projects, Diem stated that it “Diem is not Facebook. We are an independent organization, and Facebook’s Novi is just one of more than two dozen members of the Diem Association. Novi’s pilot with Paxos is unrelated to Diem.”
Despite the senators' criticism, the Novi encrypted wallet project has certainly not given up. It will likely play an essential role in Meta's future crypto provision. According to relevant information, as Facebook becomes Meta, its payment and financial services and Novi are being integrated. Meta plans to unify all payment methods and financial services under the Novi brand in the future, with significant implications for its metaverse business offering in the future. In a recent report UK-based blockchain VC Outlier Ventures confirmed the need for the metaverse to have a crypto decentralized core, with its own payment system as key: “The defining characteristic of a true Metaverse is that it needs its own economy and currencies native to it, where value can be earnt, spent, lent, borrowed or invested interchangeably in both a physical or virtual sense and most importantly without the need for a government.”
Crypto, NFTs and the Metaverse
Vishal Shah, Facebook’s head of metaverse products, said the aim was to enable “as many creators as possible to build a business in the metaverse.” Shah underlined the importance of the diversity of creators in the metaverse: “Creators who make digital objects, creators who offer services and experiences and those who build entire worlds like game creators do today.” In turn, the diversity of creators will be reflected in the diversity of business. And in underlining this point about “new types of ownership models,” he pointed out the role of NFTs, with the new Meta platform making it easier “to sell limited education digital objects like NFTs, display them in their digital spaces and even resell them to the next person securely”.
Crypto experts such as Anndy Lian, Chairman of BigONE Exchange commented earlier last week on Twitter too: “#Meta means beyond in Greek. Are you ready for it’s future? I am.” Ben Armstrong ALA Bitboy is also bullish on metaverse projects too. He mentioned this on his Tweet too: “Are you bullish on #metaverse projects? These are gaining more and more traction.”
All in all, I have to say this- Metaverse is the future.