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PayPal to offer crypto payments for merchants, limited trading on Venmo

After a limited buy/sell/hold crypto trading launch that “exceeded expectations,” PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said on the company’s Q4 earnings call today that the payments giant is ready to double down on cryptocurrencies. 

“We also saw an exceptional response from our crypto launch,” said PayPal CEO Dan Schulman. “[…] The volume of crypto traded on our platform greatly exceeded our expectations.”

Schulman said that crypto would be accepted “as a funding source when [users] shop at any of our 29 million merchants” late first quarter, and that 2021 will feature an “extensive roadmap around crypto, blockchain and digital currencies.”

Schulman added that PayPal is actively working with regulators and central banks “to shape the future of” a post-physical cash world. 

“We are significantly investing in our new crypto, blockchain, and digital currencies unit,” he said.

Analysts expected a 3.87% increase in total accounts to 375 million, as well as $266.8 billion in total payments processed, a 8% increase over Q3; the company beat both expectations with $277 billion processed and 377 million in total accounts. The company also reported $21.45 billion in revenue. 

The company’s Q4 investor update materials likewise promised “digital currencies” as a “key focus area.”

Additionally, the company said that their “Buy, Hold, and Sell Cryptocurrencies” initiative would expand to “Venmo and select international markets” in 2021. The company also noted that users of their crypto services become more active users of PayPal generally after purchasing crypto, logging in twice as often.

Finally, PayPal’s materials echoed Schulman’s statements, saying that a “commerce experience” would launch in 2021 which would provide “cryptocurrency as a funding source to pay at PayPal’s 29 million merchants around the globe.” These integrations would be settled in fiat, and would relieve merchants of conversion fees.

In November, PayPal took a major step towards adoption of digital assets by allowing its U.S. users to purchase crypto directly through the app. Customers based in the United States are limited to trading $20,000 per week. Since that time, crypto trading volume on the platform has reached record highs, peaking at $242 million in transactions on Jan. 11.

The platform also announced plans for customers to use cryptocurrencies to shop at any of the 26 million merchants in its network starting in 2021, a goal reaffirmed during the firm’s Q3 2020 earnings call. At that time, PayPal execs indicated central bank digital currencies were “a matter of when and how they’re done, and not if.”