users looking for an alternative way to stash their cash will soon be able to convert so-called "fiat" money, like US dollars and British pounds, back and forth into blockchain-based cryptocurrencies including
, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. The company announced in a blog post on Wednesday that people will be able to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency directly from their PayPal accounts. The new service will be rolling out to the US "in the coming weeks," PayPal said, with plans to expand to the company's Venmo service as well as international markets in early 2021.
PayPal also said it's working on making crypto available as a funding source for purchases made at its 26 million merchants worldwide. The company expects this to be available on the platform beginning in early 2021.
PayPal was one of the first companies facilitating payments between online retailers and their customers and has since burgeoned into an e-commerce behemoth, with more than 300 million active users and processing 12.4 billion payments in 2019.
Enthusiasm for cryptocurrency reached a fever pitch near the end of 2017, with Bitcoin soaring to over $19,000 per digital coin before falling below half that value in the early part of 2018. The technology that powers cryptocurrency -- called blockchain -- allows for secure transactions between parties without the need for centralized oversight by, for example, a bank or a government department.