PayPal brings crypto trading service to UK

23 Aug 2021

Image: © ink drop/Stock.adobe.com

From this week, UK customers will be able to buy, sell and hold four different cryptocurrencies using their existing PayPal accounts.

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

The service “starts rolling out this week”, the company said today (23 August), and is the first expansion of the company’s crypto-related services outside the US market, having launched crypto trading services there in October 2020.

Future Human

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 said.

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 crypto 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,” said 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 a milestone in the crypto sector for an established company like PayPal to put down roots and extol 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 platforms have sought to self-regulate, after accusations that their business practices enabled market crashes.

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

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 security issues in the digital asset market remain a deterrent to many consumers.

Asked if the company will be bringing crypto trading 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”.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com