Online payments platform PayPal will soon let its users buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Etherum on their accounts signalling a mainstream shift toward cryptocurrency adoption.
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said in an announcement that widespread adoption of digital money was “inevitable”.
“[It has] clear advantages in terms of financial inclusion and access; efficiency, speed and resilience of the payments system; and the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly," Schulman said.
US customers will see the new feature rolled out in the coming weeks with it then heading to “select international markets” in 2021.
PayPal said it will then allow users to spend their cryptocurrency holdings to buy products through merchants with the buyer’s cryptocurrency of choice being converted to fiat currency along the way.
Usability has been somewhat of a roadblock for cryptocurrency adoption with limited merchants willing to trade in the blockchain-based money.
Trading platform Coinbase partnered with Visa earlier this year to issue its own debit cards in an effort to help people use their stored cryptocurrencies.
The move from a mainstream payments platform like PayPal could also help improve the public perception of Bitcoin for a long time was rarely used beyond enabling somewhat-anonymous illicit purchases on the dark web.
This PayPal news is the biggest news of the year in crypto. All banks will now be on a race to service crypto. We have crossed the rubicon people. Exciting day. 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/hXpiJEDOb3— Mike Novogratz (@novogratz) October 21, 2020
“In effect, cryptocurrency simply becomes another funding source inside the PayPal digital wallet, adding enhanced utility to cryptocurrency holders, while addressing previous concerns surrounding volatility, cost and speed of cryptocurrency-based transactions,” PayPal said.
With this announcement, it appears the company has also beaten Facebook to the punch when it comes to bringing cryptocurrency to a wider audience of merchant and consumers.
The social media company had plans to unveil its own cryptocurrency, Libra, which would integrate with Facebook’s services – including its marketplace. But it came up against a hostile regulatory landscape and shortly lost support from its backers causing Facebook to vastly dilute its initial plans for an independent global cryptocurrency.
Schulman signalled that PayPal would not make that mistake.
“We are eager to work with central banks and regulators around the world to offer our support, and to meaningfully contribute to shaping the role that digital currencies will play in the future of global finance and commerce,” he said.
Following PayPal’s announcement on Wednesday night, the price of Bitcoin rose to over $18,000 – its highest point since early 2018 when the price tumbled from its heights of $20,000.