PayPal’s Venmo mobile payment app will now let users buy, hold and sell bitcoin and other digital tokens, potentially a significant step toward moving cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.
Starting Tuesday, Venmo will show users a new feature that lets them invest in four different cryptocurrencies — bitcoin, ether, litecoin and bitcoin cash — with a minimum spending requirement of $1. They can also share their crypto purchases with friends through Venmo’s social feed.
The development expands on an initial move by PayPal to let users buy crypto through its main platform. More recently, the company started letting people use their crypto holdings to pay at millions of its online merchants globally.
With more than 70 million users, Venmo is one of the most popular digital payment services in the U.S. It’s particularly popular among younger Americans who use the app to make payments or split purchases with friends and family. It competes with Square’s Cash App.
“No matter where you are in your cryptocurrency journey, crypto on Venmo will help our community to learn and explore cryptocurrencies on a trusted platform and directly in the app they know and love,” said Darrell Esch, a senior vice president and general manager of Venmo.
Esch added: “Our goal is to provide our customers with an easy-to-use platform that simplifies the process of buying and selling cryptocurrencies and demystifies some of the common questions and misconceptions that consumers may have.”
Bitcoin and other digital currencies have surged in price in 2021 on the back of increased interest from institutional investors, while major companies like Tesla and PayPal have also made significant moves in the space. Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin earlier this year and now accepts it as payment for its cars.
PayPal, meanwhile, has been ramping up its investments in crypto. Last month, the payments giant said it had agreed to buy Curv, a start-up that helps clients store their digital tokens securely, for nearly $200 million. It has also established a new business unit focused on blockchain, which Curv is set to join.
Venmo said its crypto feature was developed in partnership with blockchain infrastructure firm Paxos, which PayPal has also used for its other digital asset initiatives. PayPal was awarded a license to engage in crypto activities from New York regulators last year.
While bitcoin bulls see it as a store of value akin to gold, not everyone is convinced by the digital currency’s stunning comeback — it previously sank as low as $3,122 in 2018 after climbing to almost $20,000 a year earlier. Skeptical economists view bitcoin as a bubble waiting to burst.