PayPal’s UK customers can buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
Customers can buy as little as £1 worth of cryptocurrencies using their bank account, PayPal balance, or debit card through a crypto tab on PayPal’s website and mobile app. Users can also track crypto prices in real-time, and find educational content on the market.
The UK is the second nation to access these services after the digital payments behemoth rolled out its crypto suite in the US in October 2020.
While PayPal does not charge customers for HODLing, but it will charge transaction and currency conversion fees. It has not provided a fee schedule, but in the US fees range from 50 cents for purchases under $25 to 1.5% of the transaction for purchases over $1,000.
PayPal’s crypto service is similar to one from UK FinTech firm Revolut. As is the case with Revolut, PayPal users can’t move their crypto holdings outside the app. Crypto purchased through PayPal can only be spent through the app.
PayPal launched ‘Checkout with Crypto,’ allowing its US customers to pay merchants in cryptocurrency. In April, the company added crypto services to its popular mobile payment service, Venmo.
The payments processor is one of many large finance companies taking a leap into the mostly unregulated world of cryptocurrencies. Despite ongoing concerns about price volatility, consumer protection and potential money laundering in the industry, major firms including Mastercard, Tesla and Facebook have been warming to crypto lately.
Last July, PayPal partnered with Paxos Crypto Brokerage for its crypto payments services, and in March 2021 the company acquired Curv, an Israeli startup that helps banks and others secure their crypto holdings for nearly $200m. PayPal has also invested in crypto risk management software TRM Labs, tax software TaxBit and trading infrastructure Talos.
The launch of PayPal’s crypto service in the U.K. also comes as regulators become increasingly wary about the rise of digital currencies. In June, the FCA banned the British subsidiary of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, citing a failure to meet money-laundering requirements.
Meanwhile, central banks are exploring the potential issuance of their own digital currencies, as cash use in a number of developed countries dwindles rapidly. In April, the UK Treasury and Bank of England said they would evaluate the potential launch of a digital version of the British pound, dubbed ‘Britcoin’ by the UK press.
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