PayPal said on Wednesday it will allow customers to hold bitcoin and other virtual coins in its online wallet and shop using cryptocurrencies at the 26 million merchants on its network.
The new service makes PayPal one of the largest U.S. companies to provide consumers access to cryptocurrencies, which could help bitcoin and rival cryptocurrencies gain wider adoption as viable payment methods.
The San Jose, California-based company hopes the service will encourage global use of virtual coins and prepare its network for new digital currencies that central banks and companies may develop, President and Chief Executive Dan Schulman said in an interview.
“We are working with central banks and thinking of all forms of digital currencies and how PayPal can play a role,” he said.
U.S. account holders will be able to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies in their PayPal wallets over the coming weeks, the company said. PayPal plans to expand the service to its peer-to-peer payment app Venmo and some other countries in the first half of 2021.