Today in payments around the world: Facebook’s launch of its Novi cryptocurrency wallet could include NFT capabilities, and European flights began to rebound. Plus, there’s no end in sight to China’s regulatory crackdown, and Airwallex comes to the U.S.
Driven by discount airfare tickets and a COVID-19 digital passport, European air travel has seemingly begun to bounce back from the pandemic, according to a Thursday (Aug. 26) Wall Street Journal article. As of last week, flights within Europe had declined 27 percent versus the same week in 2019, according to the report. That rate marked the smallest change since March 2020, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and when airlines began limiting service.
The Chinese government’s regulator crackdown has extended well beyond the confines of Big Tech. The question remains: To what end? With marquee names such as Ant Group, Tencent and a host of others, the goal seems hinged on curbing at least some of the social reach of those companies. Tightening antitrust scrutiny on those companies and demanding that, for example, Ant be held to stricter capital requirements or Didi be scrutinized over data-related practices, seems to be an attempt to put guardrails around growth (particularly debt).
Facebook is planning to link its launch of the Novi digital wallet to the debut of the digital coin Diem, according to David Marcus, who oversees F2 (Facebook Financial), in an interview on Wednesday (Aug. 25) on Bloomberg Television. Novi is Facebook’s own crypto wallet that will allow individuals and companies to transfer funds domestically and internationally. This wallet could also be used to hold nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as part of Facebook’s interest in expanding its financial products, Bloomberg reported. According to Marcus, Novi is ready to launch now, but Facebook has been pushing out the debut in the hopes that it can be revealed in tandem with the digital currency Diem.
Melbourne, Australia-based FinTech Airwallex announced in a press release that it will operate under newly approved licenses in the United States through a partnership with Evolve Bank & Trust. The company, which specializes in cross-border payments, also stated that it is setting up one of five engineering hubs in San Francisco, where Airwallex already has an office with about 30 employees. The other engineering centers are in Melbourne; Shanghai, China; Syndey, Australia; and the Netherlands.