PayPal launches crypto services for UK customers

Beginning this week, residents of the United Kingdom will be able to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies through PayPal for the first time — marking a significant milestone for a company that began offering digital asset services less than a year ago. 

The global payments provider announced Sunday that U.K. customers will soon have access to Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) through PayPal’s website and mobile app. The announcement marks the first expansion of PayPal’s cryptocurrency services beyond the United States — a service that first launched in November of last year.

Jose Fernandez da Ponte, a senior executive for PayPal’s crypto division, cited the “digitization of money” during the pandemic as one of the primary motivations for entering crypto in the first place. He continued:

“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 U.K. to explore cryptocurrency.”

By offering its cryptocurrency services to U.K. residents, PayPal could play a role in increasing exposure to digital assets in the country. It’s reported that, among all European countries, PayPal penetration is highest in the United Kingdom at over 2 million monthly active users.

Related: PayPal reportedly assembling crypto team in Ireland as Bitcoin adoption grows

Rumors about PayPal’s crypto expansion plans have been circulating since last month when CEO Dan Schulman told investors that the U.K. is likely to get the service soon. As Cointelegraph reported, the company is also eyeing developments in decentralized finance, or DeFi, which is a possible precursor to future integration plans.

On the regulatory front, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, is increasingly cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges that do not meet its registration requirements. Binance’s U.K. operations were shuttered earlier this summer after the FCA warned the exchange it was not permitted to offer regulated trading activity in the country. PayPal’s da Ponte said his company is “committed to continue working closely with regulators in the U.K. and around the world” in rolling out its crypto offerings.

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