PayPal has jumped into the cryptocurrency market and plans to allow its customers to buy, sell and hold bitcoin, ethereum and other virtual currencies using their online wallets.
The new feature, which was announced on Wednesday, is expected to be implemented in 2021. At that stage, users will be able to use cryptocurrencies for shopping at the 26 million merchants in PayPal’s existing network.
“The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable,” PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman said in a statement. He added that providing easy access to the cryptocurrencies market would increase the “efficiency, speed and resilience” of the payments system.
PayPal says it wants to encourage wider use of digital coins and is also preparing for new types of virtual currencies that may be developed in the future. “We are working with central banks and thinking of all forms of digital currencies and how PayPal can play a role,” Schulman told Reuters.
First, PayPal will allow purchases of bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin. While the service has technically already been launched, it will become available to PayPal account holders in the US only “in the coming weeks,” according to the statement.
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PayPal is not the only fintech company to get into the cryptocurrency market, but its vast reach, with more than 346 million accounts worldwide, makes its move into the realm notable. The company processed $222 billion in payments in the second financial quarter of 2020 alone.
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