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PayPal's encryption territory expansion: its Venmo provides cryptocurrency trading services



Starting today, users can buy and sell four cryptocurrencies including bitcoin.

The feature is part of PayPal's growing crypto ambitions.

PayPal's launch of a new "encrypted checkout" feature in March that allows customers to pay merchants with cryptocurrencies boosted the entire bitcoin market. Now, the payments giant is preparing to add a new encryption feature to its popular peer-to-peer (P2P) app Venmo, further expanding bitcoin's reach.

PayPal announced on Tuesday that its mobile payment software Venmo has begun to provide cryptocurrency transactions for 77 million users. With the new feature added, Venmo will allow users to instantly buy Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) with minimum transaction amounts of just $1.

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“Customers will be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using funds from their Venmo account balance, bank account or debit card. All transactions can be managed directly within the Venmo App,” the company said in the announcement.

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Users can find the cryptocurrency transaction function button by clicking the menu in the upper right corner of the Venmo App. When the feature launches, it will also include a set of educational materials that the company says will "demystify" bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in every way.

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The move by Venmo is significant, and not just because of the platform's size and rapid growth. The new encryption feature could also have broader ramifications, as Venmo encourages users to share their activity on public social streams — in effect, it means Venmo users will soon see messages like "Alice bought $50 Bitcoin”, which in turn can be free publicity for cryptocurrencies.

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Previous crypto-related PayPal announcements have sent bitcoin prices surging, but it's unclear whether Venmo-related news could also be a market-moving event, especially as more platforms begin integrating crypto offerings.

Venmo’s announcement didn’t mention the cost of buying and using bitcoin, but a spokesperson said the fees would be the same as PayPal. For transactions under $25, the fee is 50 cents; for transactions under $100, the fee is at least 2.3 percent; for transactions over $1,000, the fee drops to 1.5 percent.

To facilitate crypto transactions, Venmo's escrow and transactions are performed for Venmo by its licensed service provider, Paxos Trust Company. Venmo is licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services to engage in virtual currency business activities.

Since the platform supported bitcoin last year, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman has been quick to embrace the possibility of broader support for cryptocurrencies. In a recent interview with Decrypt, Schulman explained how he sees cryptocurrencies as part of the company's strategy to reduce payment costs and create a "super app" experience that it hopes will see customers use PayPal's wallet for shopping, Everything from financial services to identification.

At the same time, the company has been working to get consumers to think of Venmo as more than just a payment app for peer-to-peer transactions. That effort includes encouraging merchants to accept Venmo payments and letting customers make direct deposits into their Venmo accounts. Adding encryption services may in time advance the company's goal of getting consumers to view its digital wallet as an all-in-one service. On a recent earnings call, Schulman singled out the encryption unit and Venmo as PayPal's two star business units.

Schulman said he doesn't expect PayPal to follow companies like Tesla and Square in adding bitcoin to its balance sheet. Instead, he prefers to use the company's cash for acquisitions, including in the crypto space. The most recent acquisition was for crypto security company Curv, which PayPal acquired last month for nearly $200 million and is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Schulman also revealed that the company’s crypto division has been experimenting with various blockchains, including Ethereum, as a means of making payments more efficient and reducing costs. In addition, PayPal does not intend to compete with companies such as Coinbase in the encryption exchange business, but has reached strategic partnerships with multiple companies to take advantage of different opportunities in the encryption field.

This article is from Decrypt, the original author: Jeff John Roberts


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