PayPal brings crypto trading service to UK

UK customers will be able, from this week, to buy, sell and hold four different currencies from their existing accounts.

PayPal has today announced the launch of cryptocurrency buying, holding and selling services for UK customers.

The service “starts rolling out this week” and is the first expansion of the company’s -related services outside the US market, having launched there in October 2020. Currently, PayPal offers access to four currencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.

The service will be accessible via the company’s website and mobile app, and customers will be able to view price trends and purchase a minimum of £1 of the available currencies. There are “transaction fees and currency conversion fees” for purchase and sale, but “no fees to hold cryptocurrency in a PayPal account”, the company says.

PayPal will also be offering “educational content” to users to “help them understand the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the volatility, risks, and opportunities related to purchasing cryptocurrency”. It is encouraging people to research and understand before buying.

“The pandemic has accelerated digital change and innovation across all aspects of our lives—including the digitisation of money and greater consumer adoption of digital financial services,” commented Jose Fernandez da Ponte, vice-president at PayPal and general manager of the company’s digital currency activities.

“Our global reach, digital payments expertise, and knowledge of consumer and businesses, combined with rigorous security and compliance controls provides us the unique opportunity, and the responsibility, to help people in the UK to explore cryptocurrency.

“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.”

It is certainly a milestone for the crypto exchange sector to see an established company like PayPal putting down roots and extolling the importance of regulatory oversight. Existing crypto exchanges have often existed in a legal grey area or been the target of crackdowns from financial authorities.

Binance, one of the largest exchanges, has been banned in the UK since June. Some have sought to self-regulate, after accusations that their business practices enabled market crashes.

PayPal seems to be serious about competing in the sector. The company has undertaken a number of digital currency-related acquisitions and partnerships, and loosened restrictions on US customers’ transactions after several months.

Since March, US customers have also been able to use cryptocurrencies against ordinary purchases made through PayPal, which some have noted has the potential to hugely popularise crypto as an everyday medium of exchange. However, price volatility and lax security in the digital asset market remain a deterrent to many consumers.

Asked if the company will be bringing crypto to Ireland or other European countries beyond the UK, a spokesperson said that PayPal “plans to gradually roll out this functionality to other global markets in the coming years”.

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