Facebook's digital wallet, Novi, could abandon the Diem stablecoin in favour of fiat money if regulators do not change their tune, says chief David Marcus in a blog in which he also confirms plans to move into other financial services.
Over the course of 2500 words, Marcus offers an impassioned case for Novi, Diem and their ability to change payments, particularly for the unbanked, while also railing against regulators and defending Facebook as a force for good and a payments sector underdog.
The Diem project has faced a series of setbacks and stiff opposition from financial regulators since it was first unveiled two years ago under the Libra name.
The current iteration of the project involves the issue of a single stablecoin pegged to the US dollar, a significant scaling back from recently revised plans to issue a series of stablecoins backed by individual traditional currencies, as well as a token based on the currency-pegged stablecoins.
In May it abandoned efforts to gain a payments licence from Swiss regulator Finma and instead switched its focus to the US.
Throughout this, Facebook has maintained its commitment to using the stablecoin for its Novi wallet, but Marcus now suggests that this could change.
"Let me be clear, if we only offered fiat money in Novi, it would bring people a lot of value," writes Marcus, adding: "So why not just do that and call it a day? Well, we might."
However, the former PayPal boss says that Facebook still backs the Diem project because "I strongly believe if there was ever a chance to create an open, interoperable protocol for money on the internet and truly change the game for people and businesses around the world, it is now".
Marcus says that Diem could have a profound effect on transforming the world's "broken" payments infrastructure, which contributes to 1.7 billion people being unbanked.
Novi has now secured licenses or approvals in nearly every US state, yet the Diem Association is still struggling for approvals despite addressing "every legitimate concern".
As for the hostility to Facebook's move into payments, Marcus claims this thinking is "profoundly un-American" and that the firm deserve a "fair shot" while also pointing out that it is already well embedded in the sector, enabling more than $100 billion in volume over the last four quarters.
He does acknowledge that Facebook's scale warrants extra scrutiny but says that people will have to make an affirmative choice to use Novi and that there will not be hundreds of millions of users from the off.
In terms of the business model, he says that Novi will offer free person-to-person payments domestically and internationally. This will eventually lead to a profit margin on merchant services.
Finally, the long-touted move into other financial services is trailed: "We can then branch out and offer a variety of other financial services in partnership with respected and well regulated partners, and expand from there."
Concluding, Marcus fires a shot across regulators bows: "Change is long overdue. It’ll happen one way or another. Novi is ready to come to market. It’s regulated, and we’re confident in our operational ability to exceed the high standards of compliance that will be demanded of us.
"We feel that it’s unreasonable to delay delivering the benefits of cheaper, interoperable, more accessible digital payments."