PayPal has announced that it would allow customers to buy, sell, and hold bitcoin and other virtual coins using its online wallets.
The service will be available to U.S. customers in the coming weeks, and some other countries in the first half of 2021.
Company Chief Executive Dan Schulman says he hopes that will encourage global use of bitcoin and the like. He says he’s working with global central banks on how PayPal can help drive that.
Cryptocurrencies have so far failed to gain enough traction for everyday use. Their extreme volatility makes them attractive to speculators, but not so much to shoppers or merchants.
Companies including payments provider Square and stock trading app Robinhood do already allow users to buy and sell digital coins. But PayPal’s vast reach could be a game-changer.
PayPal has 346 million active accounts worldwide and has processed 222 billion dollars in payments just in the second quarter of 2020.
Cryptocurrency transactions on PayPal will be settled in regular currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, meaning merchants won’t get paid in virtual coins.
Other mainstream fintech companies, such as mobile payments provider Square Inc and stock trading app firm Robinhood Markets Inc, allow users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, but PayPal’s launch is noteworthy given its vast reach.