Early next year, you’ll be able to use cryptocurrency to pay for goods at more than 26 million merchants who use PayPal. They won’t receive payment in bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash or litecoin, though. PayPal will instead settle payments in fiat currencies, such as the dollar.
The company will provide information to help account holders understand blockchain tech, the digital currency ecosystem and “the risks and opportunities related to investing in cryptocurrency.” It won’t charge users service fees to buy or sell cryptocurrency through the end of the year, and you won’t have to pay any fees for holding it in your PayPal wallet.
PayPal also plans to bring cryptocurrency to Venmo in the first half of 2021. It hopes to allow users in some other countries to buy and sell cryptocurrency next year too. The New York State Department of Financial Services has granted its first conditional "Bitlicense" to PayPal.
The company's CEO Dan Schulman told Reuters that PayPal hopes the move will encourage global uptake of cryptocurrency. The service is also preparing for central banks and corporations to set up their own virtual currencies. PayPal cited a survey of central banks suggesting a tenth of them are aiming to roll out digital versions of their currencies within the next few years.
PayPal is joining other major digital payment companies such as Square in supporting cryptocurrency. However, PayPal did note that virtual currencies can be volatile, while transactions can be slower and more expensive than with other payment methods. So, it's probably worth exercising some caution when it comes to dealing in cryptocurrency on PayPal (or anywhere else).