More companies, including PayPal and Xbox, are accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment. Others are weighing up their options.

GettyImages 1230566081
Retailers are recognizing bitcoin’s growing popularity.

  • Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly popular payment option among many companies.
  • Fast-food chains, big tech firms, and even auction houses are embracing cryptocurrencies.
  • Other companies are still considering their potential.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rarely does a news cycle go by without some mention of bitcoin’s growing popularity, from fans and skeptics alike.

Its prices on trading exchanges tumbled around Thanksgiving last year – only to roar back and set an all-time high of $19,857 on November 30: a 177% year-to-date increase that put the S&P 500’s 14% rise to shame, as Insider previously reported.

Then, in March, the cryptocurrency hit an all-time high, with prices surging to $60,000. One quirk of the increase meant that two pizzas bought by crypto legend Laszlo Hanyecz would have effectively been worth $613 million, at the time of the surge.

Bitcoin’s volatility is well-publicized and has led many investors, including Warren Buffet, to criticize it and other cryptocurrencies as “risky” and “worthless.” Such warnings have not dissuaded more companies from accepting the currency as an official payment option, however.

In February, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would accept bitcoin as a form of payment for all models of its cars in the US. In addition, Twitter’s CEO and founder, Jack Dorsey, teamed up with Jay-Z for a bitcoin endowment. The pair will invest 500 bitcoins to develop the currency in India and Africa.

Although Tesla stole the headlines, there are also hundreds of other notable companies that accept the cryptocurrency as a valid form of payment, across various industries.

Fast food

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Burger King Venezuela accepts cryptocurrencies as payment.

Restaurant Brands International is one of the world’s largest fast-food holding companies. It is the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes.

Last year, Burger King Venezuela announced it would begin accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It collaborated with Cryptobuyer, a platform that generates conversion of cryptocurrencies to normal currency, Yahoo Finance reported.

Yum Brands, which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill, is also accepting cryptocurrencies.

The corporation permitted bitcoin as a valid payment method at Pizza Hut Venezuela last year. Yum Brands also partnered with CryptoBuyer to initiate the launch of crypto payment methods, according to Nasdaq.

For a short period of time, KFC Canada accepted the cryptocurrency as payment for products such as the Bitcoin Bucket, via a partnership with BitPay, per Yahoo Finance.

Big tech

AP19203571404037
PayPal announced in October 2020 that users can buy, sell, and hold selective cryptocurrencies through their Cash or Cash Plus accounts starting in 2021.

After provisionally pausing from accepting the cryptocurrency as a valid payment method due to its volatility, Xbox is accepting bitcoin payments for Xbox store credits.

Meanwhile, PayPal announced in October 2020 that users can buy, sell, and hold selective cryptocurrencies through their Cash or Cash Plus accounts, starting in 2021, Yahoo Finance reports.

Users will also have the ability to learn and track crypto within their PayPal app.

Although Amazon does not directly permit bitcoin as a valid payment method, you can buy Amazon vouchers and gift cards through Bitrefill. This is a crypto-only company that authorizes users to top up subscription-based services, and then spend them on Amazon.

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As well as considering crypto payments, eBay said it was also looking at a “number of ways” to get into the NFT space.

In recent days, eBay Inc announced that it is considering the possibility of accepting cryptocurrency as a valid form of payment in the future.

“We are always looking at the most relevant forms of payment and will continue to assess that going forward. We have no immediate plans, but it (cryptocurrency) is something we are keeping an eye on,” eBay said in a statement to Reuters.

Drinks companies

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Coca-Cola Amatil announced their partnership with an online assets platform, Centrapay, to permit bitcoin as an official payment method last year.

Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the world’s biggest bottlers and distributors of non-alcoholic and ready-to-drink beverages in the Asia Pacific region.

Last year, the company announced in a press release their partnership with an online assets platform, Centrapay. This enabled it to accept bitcoin as an official payment method. There are about 2,000 vending machines in Australia and New Zealand that now accept cryptocurrency, according to a CoinDesk report.

Elsewhere, Starbucks began testing bitcoin payments last year through the app, Bakkt, Nasdaq reported.

The digital asset marketplace app recently launched their digital-wallet application, in which users can convert bitcoin into USD to reload their Starbucks Card.

Art

The logo of Sotheby's auction house is seen at a branch office in Zurich, Switzerland October 25, 2016.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Sotheby’s said they will start accepting bitcoin or ether as a payment option.

Last week, world-famous auction house Sotheby’s said it will start accepting bitcoin or ether as a payment option when it presents Banksy’s artwork, “Love Is In The Air”, at its contemporary art sale next week in New York.

This will be the first time a major auction house accepts cryptocurrencies for physical artwork, as Insider previously reported.

The move to push crypto and art closer together comes as collectors look for more seamless methods of payment when doing business with Sotheby’s, said Stefan Pepe, Sotheby’s chief technology officer.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel called out Apple and Google, warned about TikTok and bitcoin, and criticized China at a recent event. Here are the 17 best quotes.

peter thiel
Peter Thiel.

  • Peter Thiel called out Apple and Google for their links to China this week.
  • The billionaire tech investor issued warnings about bitcoin, TikTok, and AI.
  • Thiel wants to restrict US investors’ access to Chinese markets and vice versa.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel warned bitcoin could serve as a “Chinese financial weapon,” criticized Apple and Google for their connections to China, and suggested TikTok should be banned in the US at a virtual event held by the Richard Nixon Foundation this week.

Thiel, the vocal libertarian who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and sits on the board of Facebook Facebook board member, also expressed concerns about technology theft and artificial intelligence, and called for greater restrictions on Chinese investment in the US and vice versa.

The event was called “The Nixon Seminar on Conservative Realism and National Security,” and the topic of discussion was “Big Tech and China: What do we need from Silicon Valley?”

Here are Thiel’s 17 best quotes from the seminar, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

1. “Shockingly little innovation happens in China. But they have been very good at copying things, stealing things.”

2. “I criticized Google a few years ago for working with Chinese universities and Chinese researchers. And since everything in China is a civilian-military fusion, Google was effectively working with the Chinese military. One of the things that I was sort of told by some of the insiders at Google was they figured they might as well give the technology out the front door, because if they didn’t give it, it would get stolen anyway.”

3. “I had a set of conversations with some of the DeepMind AI people at Google. I asked them, ‘Is your AI being used to run the concentration camps in Xinjiang?’ and they said, ‘Well, we don’t know and don’t ask any questions.’ You have this almost magical thinking that by pretending everything is fine, that’s how you engage and have a conversation, and you make the world better.”

4. “If you look at the big five tech companies, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft all have very, very little presence in China. So they aren’t a naturally pro-China constituency. Apple is probably the one that’s structurally a real problem, because the whole iPhone supply chain gets made from China.”

5. “We need to call companies like Google out for working on AI with communist China. I also think we should be putting a lot of pressure on Apple.”

6. “At Facebook, during the Hong Kong protests a year ago, the employees from Hong Kong were all in favor of the protests and free speech. But there were more employees at Facebook who were born in China than who were born in Hong Kong. And the Chinese nationals actually said that it was just Western arrogance, and they shouldn’t be taking Hong Kong’s side and things like that. The internal debate felt like people were actually more anti-Hong Kong than pro-Hong Kong.”

7. “TikTok is problematic because it has this incredible exfiltration of data about people. You are creating this incredibly privacy-invading map of a large part of the population of the Western world. It is a fairly powerful application of AI in a certain sense, as they find ways to make it especially addictive and figure out what videos to show you to keep you watching more and more. It doesn’t seem that if you shut it down, it would be an economic catastrophe.”

8. “In a totalitarian society, you have no qualms about getting data on everybody, in every way possible. That makes AI a very tricky technology, because there are a lot of ways we don’t actually want to apply it in the US or West.” – highlighting the Chinese government’s use of AI for widescale facial recognition.

9. “People often say crypto or bitcoin is a vaguely libertarian technology. If crypto is kind of libertarian, AI is kind of communist.”

10. “Even though I’m sort of a pro-crypto, pro-bitcoin maximalist person, I do wonder whether bitcoin should be partly thought of as a Chinese financial weapon against the US. It threatens fiat money, especially the US dollar, and China wants to do things to weaken the dollar. If China’s long bitcoin, perhaps the US should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works.”

11. “An internal stable coin in China – that’s not a real cryptocurrency. That’s just some sort of totalitarian measuring device.”

12. “Make it harder for Chinese investors to invest in the US, and perhaps we should also make it a little bit harder for American investors to invest in China. We have US investors that invest in China and become a big constituency for open capital flows. I think a decent part of the Wall Street crowd is pretty bad in this regard. I would dial it back on both sides – making it harder for US investors to invest in China is an almost equally important part of this.”

13. “China doesn’t like the US having the reserve currency, because it gives us a lot of leverage over Iranian oil supply chains and all sorts of things like that. You can think of the Euro in part as a Chinese weapon against the dollar. China would have liked to see two reserve currencies.”

14. “One of the very strange dynamics in Silicon Valley is people don’t do very much with semiconductors anymore. One of the weird problems with 20 years of intellectual property theft, and where IP doesn’t really have as much value as it used to, is that you learn not to invest in things like that.”

15. “People are too anchored to doing things that worked in the past or copying some model. Building a new search engine was the right thing for Google to do in 1999. It’s probably not the right thing to do today. It’s very hard to compete against Google by doing the exact same thing they are doing.”

16. “You can think of big tech as something that’s very natural. It’s maybe unnaturally big. It’s unhealthy. It’s too strong. But there’s something in the nature of tech to be big. Big science is actually an oxymoron. If you have some giant science factory, there’s probably not much science going on at all.” – criticizing how science has become overly institutionalized and dominated by large corporations.

17. “De-platforming President Trump was really quite extraordinary. That does feel like you really crossed some kind of Rubicon where you declare war on maybe a third, 40% of the country – that seems really crazy.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

More companies are accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment, including PayPal and Starbucks, despite warnings about its volatility

GettyImages 1230566081
Retailers are recognizing bitcoin’s growing popularity.

Rarely does a news cycle go by without some mention of bitcoin’s growing popularity, from fans and skeptics alike.

Its prices on trading exchanges tumbled around Thanksgiving last year – only to roar back and set an all-time high of $19,857 on November 30: a 177% year-to-date increase that put the S&P 500’s 14% rise to shame, as Insider previously reported.

Then, last month, the cryptocurrency hit an all-time high, with prices surging to $60,000. One quirk of the increase meant that two pizzas bought by crypto legend Laszlo Hanyecz would have effectively been worth $613 million.

Bitcoin’s volatility is well-publicized and has led many investors, including Warren Buffet, to criticize it and other cryptocurrencies as “risky” and “worthless.” Such warnings have not dissuaded more companies from accepting the currency as an official payment option, however.

In February, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would accept bitcoin as a form of payment for all models of its cars in the US. In addition, Twitter’s CEO and founder, Jack Dorsey, teamed up with Jay-Z for a bitcoin endowment. The pair will invest 500 bitcoins to develop the currency in India and Africa.

Although Tesla stole the headlines, there are also hundreds of other notable companies that accept the cryptocurrency as a valid form of payment, across various industries.

Fast food

6046324e2db4af00117e40c2
Burger King Venezuela accepts cryptocurrencies as payment.

Restaurant Brands International is one of the world’s largest fast-food holding companies. It is the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes.

Last year, Burger King Venezuela announced it will begin accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It collaborated with Cryptobuyer, a platform that generates conversion of cryptocurrencies to normal currency, Yahoo Finance reported.

Yum Brands, which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill, is also accepting cryptocurrencies.

The corporation permitted bitcoin as a valid payment method at Pizza Hut Venezuela last year. Yum Brands also partnered with CryptoBuyer to initiate the launch of crypto payment methods, according to Nasdaq.

For a short period of time, KFC Canada accepted the cryptocurrency as payment for products such as the Bitcoin Bucket, via a partnership with BitPay, per Yahoo Finance.

Big tech

AP19203571404037
PayPal announced in October 2020 that users can buy, sell, and hold selective cryptocurrencies through their Cash or Cash Plus accounts starting in 2021.

After provisionally pausing from accepting the cryptocurrency as a valid payment method due to its volatility, Xbox is accepting bitcoin payments for Xbox store credits.

Meanwhile, PayPal announced in October 2020 that users can buy, sell, and hold selective cryptocurrencies through their Cash or Cash Plus accounts, starting in 2021, Yahoo Finance reports.

Users will also have the ability to learn and track crypto within their PayPal app.

Although Amazon does not directly permit bitcoin as a valid payment method, you can buy Amazon vouchers and gift cards through Bitrefill. This is a crypto-only company that authorizes users to top up subscription-based services, and then spend them on Amazon.

Drinks companies

AP21040298585553
Coca-Cola Amatil announced their partnership with an online assets platform, Centrapay, to permit bitcoin as an official payment method last year.

Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the world’s biggest bottlers and distributors of non-alcoholic and ready-to-drink beverages in the Asia Pacific region.

Last year, the company announced in a press release their partnership with an online assets platform, Centrapay, to permit bitcoin as an official payment method. There are about 2,000 vending machines in Australia and New Zealand that now accept cryptocurrency, according to a CoinDesk report.

Elsewhere, Starbucks began testing bitcoin payments last year through the app, Bakkt, Nasdaq reported.

This week, the digital asset marketplace app launched their digital-wallet application, in which users can convert bitcoin into USD to reload their Starbucks Card.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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

Billionaire Peter Thiel donates $10 million to ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author J.D. Vance’s potential Senate run

J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance is the author of the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”

  • The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Peter Thiel gave $10 million to J.D. Vance’s possible Senate bid.
  • Thiel donated to the Protect Ohio Values PAC, an organization supporting Vance’s candidacy.
  • Vance had previously worked for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management investment firm.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaire Peter Thiel is backing J.D. Vance’s possible run for the US Senate.

Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal, donated $10 million to the Protect Ohio Values PAC, the group told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Protect Ohio Values was formed last month to recruit Vance to run for retiring US Sen. Rob Portman’s Ohio seat.

“Protect Ohio Values PAC is amplifying the many voice who want JD Vance to be Ohio’s next US Senator,” Protect Ohio Values PAC spokesperson Bryan Lanza said in a statement to Insider.

J.D. Vance wrote the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which recounted his childhood growing up in a white working class Rust Belt town. The Netflix film adaption of “Hillbilly Elegy” recently picked up an Oscar nomination.

Read more: At least 22 governors haven’t gotten their COVID-19 vaccine, Insider found. Here’s who – and why.

Thiel also gave Vance financial backing last year, when Vance launched the venture capital fund Narya Capital. Narya invests in tech and science pursuits in cities outside of coastal tech hubs.

Vance had worked for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management investment firm after graduating from Yale Law School in 2013.

Thiel had been a vocal supporter for Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign and presidency, but backed away from his 2020 reelection campaign. The tech investor had previously put $850,000 into a PAC that backed former secretary of state of Kansas Kris Kobach’s failed 2020 senate bid.

Thiel did not immediately return a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Is PayPal secure? How the service protects your transactions, credit card data, and more

online shopping laptop with credit card
PayPal is about as secure as it gets in terms of online transactions.

  • PayPal is a highly secure financial service, backed with some of the best end-to-end encryption available.
  • You should also make sure to enable two-factor authentication, and delete any unused bank accounts or email addresses.
  • Even with all this security, remember that no online service is immune to hacking or theft.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

PayPal got its start in 1998 and is used by hundreds of millions of people. It’s considered one of the safest ways to conduct financial transactions online, potentially even more secure than using a credit card. 

How PayPal secures your information

“PayPal is an online payments system. Period. PayPal is laser-focused on payments,” said Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO at Chargebacks911, a platform that manages chargeback fraud.

In other words, PayPal focuses all their attention on making sure that every transaction you make through the service is as smooth and secure as possible.

The service automatically encrypts all transactions using secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol technology with 128-bit encryption. PayPal also performs server checks to ensure customers are using an approved browser (supporting SSL 3.0 or higher) for web-based transactions. 

Is_PayPal_secure 1
PayPal is a popular financial service with high levels of end-to-end encryption.

Moreover, PayPal has added security features that go beyond technology like SSL and encryption. Tom Kelly, president and CEO of digital privacy protection platform IDX, said that PayPal stores all their data “in a single online vault system, which is much safer” than how credit card data can be stored in multiple locations.

PayPal offers a strong purchase protection program for buyers, and follows the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a set of standards also followed by credit card companies to secure user data and protect against theft and fraud.

It’s important to note that PayPal acts as a secure intermediary, never exposing credit card numbers or bank account information during a transaction, which can happen if you use your credit card on other sites. 

How to protect yourself from any PayPal vulnerabilities

Monica Eaton-Cardone warned that no service is completely secure, though. “Even though you’re well-protected from the other party, you’re not immune to hacking, theft or fraud. If you make careless errors, that can lead to your PayPal account being compromised. And PayPal itself isn’t infallible: They’ve frozen accounts by accident.” 

In short, most vulnerabilities come from users accidentally exposing their username and password to hackers. Traditional scams like phishing attacks remain a risk that people need to be wary of. 

“Using two-factor authentication along with a strong password is critical,” Tom Kelly advised. 

Is_PayPal_secure 2
Every PayPal user should enable two-factor authentication to prevent hackers from taking advantage of stolen login credentials.

And because you can link PayPal to other accounts, devices, and email addresses, unused and forgotten links are a risk vector for your PayPal account.

Rob Shavell, co-founder and CEO of the online privacy company Abine, said, “Delete unused accounts and accounts associated with old email addresses. People often forget that they may have linked their inactive PayPal account to a still-active funding source. It’s best to close out the account to ensure no one else accesses it.”

How to remove your debit or credit card from PayPal in 5 simple stepsHow to find your PayPal account and routing numbers to set up direct deposit, if you’re eligible to use the featureYou can’t delete your PayPal history without deleting your account as well – here’s how to do itHow to change your PayPal password to keep your account secure, or reset the password if you’ve forgotten it

Read the original article on Business Insider

Wedbush says Tesla’s bitcoin investment will spark further corporate adoption – and highlights 4 stocks already poised to gain from the crypto boom

Elon Musk
  • Tesla has paved the way for more corporations to head down the path to owning and accepting bitcoin, according to Wedbush. 
  • The firm says current bitcoin mania is not a “fad,” but the start of a new era of digital currency. 
  • PayPal, Square, Mastercard, and Visa could benefit from the crypto boom, Wedbush said.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Tesla’s bitcoin bet could be a “game changer” for the digital currency and the broader adoption of blockchain technology over the coming years, according to Wedbush.

Given the still nascent and volatile nature around bitcoin, less than 5% of public companies will likely invest in bitcoin over the next twelve to eighteen months, but that could move “markedly higher” as more regulation and acceptance of the cryptocurrency takes hold in the future, a team of analysts said in a Monday note. 

Bitcoin reached a new high above $50,000 Tuesday morning, bringing its year-to-date gains to 74% in a sign of the growing acceptance of the digital currency.

According to Wedbush, the bitcoin mania is not simply a “fad,” but a sign of the broader digital currency and blockchain space growing.

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: These 40 heavily shorted stocks could be the next GameStop if retail traders target them – and the group has already nearly doubled over the past 3 months

“…We believe the trend of transactions, bitcoin investments, and blockchain driven initiatives could surge over the coming years as this bitcoin mania is not a fad in our opinion, but rather the start of a new age on the digital currency front,” said Wedbush. 

Also, Tesla’s announcement to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment could be a “paradigm changing move for the use of bitcoin from a transaction perspective.” 

This will bode well for payments companies PayPal and Square, said Wedbush. Both of those companies allow consumers to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrencies which is resulting in higher frequency usage of their consumer-facing ecosystems. 

The crypto-boom could also be a “neutral to slight positive” for Visa and Mastercard, said Wedbush. Those two networks are gradually planning to accept central bank digital currencies and asset-backed currencies in payments transactions. Mastercard will start supporting certain cryptocurrencies directly on the network in 2021, which could open merchants up to new customers, the analysts added.

Also, Visa plans to launch a pilot crypto software program to help banks roll out bitcoin and cryptocurrency buying and trading services. 

Read more: UBS says bitcoin is a bubble and too volatile to diversify a portfolio, unlike gold – here’s why the bank says it could end up ‘worthless’

Read the original article on Business Insider

PayPal reported its strongest-ever quarterly growth in payment volume in Q4 with $277 billion as the pandemic fueled online transactions

dan schulman paypal success leadership 4x3
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman.

  • PayPal reported its strongest quarterly growth in total payment volume in Q4 with $277 billion.
  • That’s a 39% increase from Q4 2019, when the company reported $199 billion in total payment volume.
  • PayPal enjoyed a surge in use in 2020 as the pandemic drove more online transactions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

PayPal said it reported its strongest quarterly growth in total payment volume in its fourth-quarter earnings with $277 billion, a 36% increase from Q4 2019.

PayPal CFO John Rainey made the comment in a Wednesday earnings call after the company posted its Q4 results, with revenue of $6.12 billion and earnings-per-share of $1.32.

Both Rainey and CEO John Schulman stressed on the call and in its Q4 results that 2020 was PayPal’s best year in its history, a milestone that coincided with unprecedented online shopping numbers as the pandemic kept people inside and out of brick and mortar stores, especially during the holidays.

Schulman emphasized that a “digital-first world” is now our reality.

“Consumers no longer want to handle cash,” Schulman said on the call. He also touched on Venmo users cashing their stimulus checks in the app, which PayPal acquired in 2013.

Read more: PayPal workers were struggling to make ends meet. CEO Dan Schulman vowed to change that.

While PayPal reported a record-breaking quarterly growth rate in total payment volume, growth in other areas appears to have slowed slightly compared to earlier in 2020.

PayPal reported 16 million net new active users in Q4 compared to 20.2 million in Q1 2020. In April 2020 alone, PayPal gained 7.4 million new active users, a new record for the digital payment company. The company saw its strongest quarter in PayPal’s history in Q2, during the first few months of the pandemic, adding 21.3 million net new active users. 

Read more: These 8 PayPal execs are leading the company during a record period of growth as e-commerce and digital payments boom

PayPal said the company ended 2020 with a total of 377 million active accounts and expects to add 50 million net new active accounts in 2021.

The company also noted that it signed on a slew of new merchants in 2020, including Footlocker, Levi’s, Macy’s, Uniqlo, and others.

Read the original article on Business Insider

PayPal suspends account of neo-Nazi who was using the site to sell hate speech

GettyImages 1154091538
PayPal suspended a neo-Nazi user after anti-fascist activists noted he was selling books using the company’s service.

An avowed white supremacist will have to find another way to sell his racist tracts after PayPal suspended his account on Tuesday.

Billy Roper is a third-generation white supremacist, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center; his father and grandfather were both members of the Ku Klux Klan. The SPLC describes Roper, based in Arkansas, as “the uncensored voice of violent neo-Nazism.”

“I’m a biological racist,” he said in a 2003 essay published in a neo-Nazi newsletter, per the SPLC. “Every non-white on the planet has to become extinct,” he added in a 2005 radio interview. He also praised the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, admiring the “testicular fortitude” of al-Qaeda.

Though his views were well-documented, Roper was until this week selling his latest collection of hate speech, purporting to be a guide to surviving “the future breakup of America” into racial enclaves, on his own website, where he was accepting credit cards through PayPal – after Amazon and other online retailers had the 126-page screed removed from their platforms.

“We regularly assess activity against our Acceptable Use Policy and carefully review actions reported to us, and will discontinue our relationship with account holders who are found to violate our policy,” a company spokesperson said after Insider asked about his use of the service. PayPal’s policy states that users may not promote “hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance.”

On Twitter, the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists group has been calling on supporters to contact PayPal and other companies and bring to attention their roles in facilitating the spread of racist propaganda.

“Billy Roper is a well known neo-Nazi leader, so he has been on our radar for years,” an activist from the group told Insider. “Cutting off funding to white supremacist organizations and figureheads makes their recruitment and propaganda efforts more difficult.”

It’s not the first time that PayPal has acted against right-wing extremists after activists pointed out they were exploiting its platform. In 2019, it suspended an account being used to fundraise for the KKK after a co-founder of the anti-racist group Sleeping Giants highlighted it on social media.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 reasons why bitcoin has doubled in less than a month – and why experts think it won’t repeat its 2017 crash

Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin has more than doubled in less than a month, leaving analysts and investors stunned and concerned about a possible market bubble.
  • In many ways the token’s rally in recent months is crucially different than the surge seen three years ago, as buyers now range from casual day traders to fund managers handling billions of dollars in assets.
  • Easy monetary conditions and trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus have led some investors to view the token as a new inflation hedge.
  • Detailed below are the factors driving bitcoin higher, and why experts don’t think the cryptocurrency will crash as it did in 2017.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

It took nearly 11 years for bitcoin to reach $20,000 per coin for the first time in 2017. Just 22 days later, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency has surged another $20,000, and its momentum is so far holding strong.

Bitcoin’s rapid climb back in 2017 was swiftly followed by sell-offs that erased the bulk of its quickly earned gains. But no such trend has emerged this time around, and experts say a combination of factors fueled the token’s surge through 2020 and will continue to boost bitcoin in the new year.

Detailed below are three reasons behind bitcoin’s price spike, and a discussion of why it’s unlikely to suffer a crash similar to that seen two years ago.

(1) Fear of missing out

While passionate retail investors powered bitcoin’s 2017 rally, public companies sparked the token’s latest climb. MicroStrategy started a chain reaction when it bought $425 million worth of bitcoin in August and September, Jimmy Nguyen, president of the Bitcoin Association, told Insider. The move opened the door for other public companies to view bitcoin as a viable reserve asset.

Square followed in October with its own $50 million purchase. Still, it wasn’t until PayPal adopted bitcoin that prices began to rocket higher. The company announced on October 21 that it would allow its hundreds of millions of users to buy, sell, and hold bitcoin. The token leaped to its highest level since July 2019 as investors saw the adoption as a key step forward for bitcoin’s widespread use.

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“People are seeing a move to it as a reserve asset, knowing there’s a limited supply of Bitcoin, and saying, ‘okay, I want my piece of it before it goes too high in price,” Nguyen said.

The subsequent rise in bitcoin prices then pulled institutional investors into the fray. Fund managers who previously balked at the token and its violent price swings feared they were missing out on strong returns and began shifting some cash into the cryptocurrency.

Institutional investors have since pushed billions of dollars into the cryptocurrency market. Their involvement has played the biggest part in the token’s meteoric rise through the end of 2020, according to Douglas Borthwick, chief marketing officer at digital-asset trading platform INX.

“If you don’t have something in your portfolio that’s performing well, then you’re not going to perform well. People are going to leave your fund,” Borthwick told Insider. “You’ve got larger and larger position sizes chasing a smaller and smaller number of bitcoin in circulation.”

(2) Demand for inflation hedges

Bitcoin may first seem completely disconnected from the coronavirus pandemic, but the health crisis’ fallout has played a critical role in supporting token prices. Governments around the world passed several trillion dollars worth of fiscal stimulus to pad against the pandemic’s economic damage.

The influx of fresh currency and easy monetary conditions boosted the case for bitcoin as a hedge against inflation, JPMorgan analyst Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said in November. A limited supply of 21 million tokens and insulation from policy decisions saw the token serve as an alternative to gold and other hedge assets.

“That money printing has meant that everyone in the world has been searching for hard assets to invest in, something that isn’t going up in terms of supply,” Borthwick said.

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(3) Increase legitimacy

Companies and institutional investors warming up to bitcoin has given legitimacy to an asset recently known more for its murky uses than its investment potential. During the token’s 2017 rally, those less familiar with cryptocurrencies associated them with “nefarious activities,” Borthwick said.

PayPal’s adoption and the influx of institutional funds lend bitcoin new legitimacy and interest among retail investors, Borthwick added. And just yesterday, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said national banks can use blockchain networks and stablecoins for payments, further legitimizing digital currencies.

“The more big names get involved in the space and the more regulators start writing regulations about it, the more it becomes a mainstream asset,” Borthwick said.

Curiosity among everyday investors exploded through the end of last year. Global search interest for bitcoin more than tripled from early October to early January, according to Google Trends data. Celebrities ranging from actress Maisie Williams to rapper Meek Mill have tweeted about entering the cryptocurrency market. In a matter of months, the crowd pushing cash into bitcoin has evolved from fund managers and crypto-fanatics to practically everybody else, Borthwick said.

“There’s an absolute land rush to get invested in the crypto space,” he added. “It’s no longer friends and family and old friends from college.”

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What’s ahead for the red-hot cryptocurrency

Bitcoin’s rapid doubling has naturally prompted some investors to deem the token a bubble. JPMorgan said Monday that the token’s rally moves it “into more challenging territory,” and that a continued climb at its current pace would likely “prove unsustainable.”

The market very well may be “prone to a sort of correction,” but it’s unlikely to resemble that seen three years ago, Nguyen said. Institutional investors are poised to maintain their bitcoin positions for fear of prematurely selling and missing out on additional returns.

Growing interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies also protects prices from returning to the recent lows, Borthwick said

“What you’re talking about here is the adoption of something by everybody in the world over a very short period of time,” he said. “When you talk about a new technology, I don’t think there ever is such a thing as a top.”

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