PayPal customers can now use cryptocurrency to pay merchants. Its CEO bought a pair of cowboy boots in the platform’s first crypto checkout transaction.

Dan Schulman
PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman.

  • PayPal told Reuters that it was now letting US consumers use cryptocurrency holdings to pay online.
  • Customers can use bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, or litecoin in their PayPal digital wallets to pay merchants.
  • CEO Dan Schulman told Fast Company he made the first cryptocurrency purchase, buying a pair of cowboy boots.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

PayPal has started allowing US consumers to use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay at millions of its online merchants globally, it announced Tuesday.

Customers who hold bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, and litecoin in PayPal digital wallets would now be able to convert their holdings into fiat currencies at checkouts to make purchases, the company told Reuters.

President and CEO Dan Schulman told Fast Company he made the first official purchase using the new checkout system, buying a pair of cowboy boots.

The service, which PayPal revealed it was working on late last year, started rolling out on Tuesday, and would be available to all US customers “over the next few weeks,” Schulman said.

Customers can already use it at half of PayPal’s 29 million merchants across the world, he added.

“This is the first time you can seamlessly use cryptocurrencies in the same way as a credit card or a debit card inside your PayPal wallet,” Schulman told Reuters.

Read more: PayPal is seeing high engagement numbers from crypto holders on its app as digital currency is shaping up to be a key part of the payment giant’s future strategy

Checkout with Crypto builds on the ability for PayPal users to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies, which the San Jose, California-based payments company launched in October.

The offering made PayPal one of the largest mainstream financial companies to open its network to cryptocurrencies and helped fuel a rally in virtual coin prices.

Bitcoin has nearly doubled in value since the start of this year, boosted by increased interest from larger financial firms that are betting on greater adoption and see it as a hedge against inflation.

PayPal’s launch comes less than a week after Tesla said it would start accepting bitcoin payments for its cars. Unlike PayPal transactions, where merchants will be receiving fiat currency, Tesla said it will hold the bitcoin used as payment.

Still, while the nascent asset is gaining traction among mainstream investors, it has yet to become a widespread form of payment, due in part to its continued volatility.

PayPal hopes its service can change that, as by settling the transaction in fiat currency, merchants will not take on the volatility risk.

“We think it is a transitional point where cryptocurrencies move from being predominantly an asset class that you buy, hold and or sell to now becoming a legitimate funding source to make transactions in the real world at millions of merchants,” Schulman told Reuters.

The company said it would charge no transaction fee to checkout with crypto and only one type of coin could be used for each purchase.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bill Gates advised against investing in Bitcoin, saying cryptocurrencies damage the environment

Bill Gates
Gates spoke out against bitcoin citing environmental damages caused by the cryptocurrency.

  • Billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates criticized bitcoin’s environmental impact in an interview.
  • Speaking to CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, he said it used more electricity than any other method.
  • Cambridge University analysis suggested bitcoin used more energy than Argentina, the BBC reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world and an outspoken advocate, fighting against climate change.

In a Clubhouse interview with New York Times reporter and CNBC co-anchor Andrew Ross in February, Gates spoke out against bitcoin citing environmental damages caused by the cryptocurrency.

“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind,” Gates said. “It’s not a great climate thing.”However, he added that bitcoin’s energy use may be acceptable if green energy is used and it is not “crowding out other users.”

Gates clarified that he does not see climate change and bitcoin as being “closely related,” and labeled himself a “bitcoin skeptic,” citing a preference to invest in “products” like malaria and measles vaccines rather than cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies have become a major culprit for energy consumption, with the world’s bitcoin network using as much power as the whole of Ireland in 2018.

Analysis by the University of Cambridge released earlier this year suggested that bitcoin was now consuming more electricity than Argentina, according to the BBC.

Gates is not the only one to speak out against bitcoin’s environmental impact, with CIO of Société Générale’s Kleinwort Hambros bank, Fahad Kamal, saying bitcoin’s energy use was “staggering” and a major worry for investors.

Economist Nouriel Roubini also criticized bitcoin and the growing trend in bitcoin investment, spiked by endorsements from Tesla chief Elon Musk.

“Since the fundamental value of bitcoin is zero and would be negative if a proper carbon tax was applied to its massive polluting energy-hogging production, I predict that the current bubble will eventually end in another bust,” Roubini said.

However, others have stood behind bitcoin and the cryptocurrency soared to record highs on February 21, reaching $58,640. “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer previously told Sorkin on CNBC that it was “almost irresponsible” for companies not to own bitcoin.

Meanwhile, Ark Invest founder Cathie Woods said she expected the price of bitcoin to rise between $40,000 and $400,000 and that digital wallets would gut traditional banks.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Revolut is operating as a bank in 10 Central European countries, and hopes to do so across the continent

Revolut
Revolut has been operating as a bank in Poland and Lithuania since last year.

  • Revolut has launched as a bank in 10 Central European countries using a Lithuanian banking license.
  • The startup has also applied for a UK banking license and hopes to achieve profitability this year.
  • Revolut broke even in December and was valued at $5.5 billion in 2020 after raising $500 million.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Revolut has started operating as a bank in 10 Central European countries.

Using a license issued in Lithuania, Revolut Bank will operate in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The British-born startup and financial app has been operating as a bank in Poland and Lithuania since last year while maintaining its services in other European countries using its e-money license.

Revolut started 15 years ago as a service for withdrawing money outside users’ home country without commissions, exchanging currencies at a more favorable exchange rate than with banks, and making payments between friends.

In February last year, Revolut was valued at $5.5 billion after raising $500 million from TCV, a Silicon Valley growth fund.

The neobank has been adding to its services with more insurance options, a cryptocurrencies news feature, and the ability to split bills with non-Revolut users.

The advantage of a banking license is that it allows Revolut to be used for deposits, while e-money licenses mean Revolut serves as more of a wallet for its users.

After Brexit, the company moved its license from the UK to Lithuania in order to continue operating in European markets. However, Revolut has also applied for a UK banking license to improve its profitability.

“Revolut is now the fastest growing fintech company in Europe because we put the customer at the heart of everything that we do. Our product design is second to none, we have no hidden fees, and we are constantly building new and innovative financial products,” Revolut Bank CEO Virgilijus Mirkės said in a statement.

“Launching the bank in ten new European markets will provide a greater level of security and confidence for our customers, and will enable us to launch a host of new products and services in the near future,” he added.

In December 2020, the company broke even following a 40% revenue decrease earlier in the pandemic, suggesting that profitability may soon be on the cards.

Read the original article on Business Insider