PayPal steps up its crypto push by allowing British customers to buy, hold, and sell 4 digital tokens

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PayPal steps up its crypto push by allowing British customers to buy, hold, and sell 4 digital tokens
Luis Alvarez
  • PayPal customers in the UK will be able to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrencies starting this week.
  • The service is initially limited to bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and bitcoin cash.
  • This marks PayPal's first international crypto product expansion outside the US.

PayPal announced on Monday that customers in the UK will be allowed to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrencies starting this week.

Users can at first choose only from limited options including bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and bitcoin cash, PayPal said.

Monday's roll-out marks the company's first international crypto product expansion. UK customers can begin by buying as little as £1 ($1.37) of cryptocurrency on the platform, the company said.

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Compliance and regulation continue to be a mainstay in conversations around the digital currency sector as central banks assess the relationship between traditional payment platforms and crypto products.

"We are committed to continue working closely with regulators in the UK, and around the world, to offer our support - and meaningfully contribute to shaping the role digital currencies will play in the future of global finance and commerce," Jose Fernandez da Ponte, vice president and general manager of digital currencies at PayPal, said in a statement Monday.

All eligible UK customers, or those whose identities are verified, will be able to access a new crypto tab on their PayPal account via the app or website to view the pricing and trends of the four cryptocurrencies. While no fees are required to hold cryptocurrency in an account, fees for transactions and currency conversion will be applicable.

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PayPal's business account holders are not eligible crypto customers.

Customers in the US were introduced to buying and selling the same four cryptocurrencies on the payments platform last October during heightened interest in digital assets from central banks and consumers.

The US launch has been doing "really well," Fernandez da Ponte told CNBC. "We expect it's going to do well in the UK."

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That was followed by another "checkout with crypto" service, which allowed US customers to spend their cryptocurrency when making online purchases with merchants. It isn't clear yet whether UK customers are allowed to use a similar service that lets them pay merchants in crypto.

PayPal's crypto offering is similar to UK fintech Revolut's service. Users on both apps so far are unable to move their crypto holdings to external wallets.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman wants the company to be ready to support central bank digital currencies (CBDC) too. He thinks CBDCs are inevitable after China began to test its own digital renminbi.

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"I do believe that governments, central banks are understanding that the world is moving towards digital payments, that you cannot manage monetary policy through the issuance of banknotes," he told the Financial Times in a recent interview.

With the increase in demand for smart-contract platforms, institutional investors have started showing a lot of interest in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

But digital assets are associated with immense price volatility, as they are not regulated by a central authority.

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Bitcoin hit a three-month high of $50,000 on Monday, bringing its year-to-date gain to 73%. It is still 21% lower from its April record-high of near $65,000. Ether rose 2% to $3,333 per coin, and cardano's ada rose 8% to $2.82.

Read More: The CEO of a crypto-trading firm that's seen a 456% surge in trade volume explains how institutions find market-beating performance in DeFi - and what could become the third most dominant coin

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