Today, PayPal announced that they will be launching a cryptocurrency digital wallet for buying, selling and storing Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
This confirms rumors which circulated earlier this year, and it is seen as a significant milestone by many in the community.
A milestone it may be, but it will impact millions of daily users who have, until now, never considered getting into cryptocurrency. For them, PayPal will be the leading authority in a space that it has long sought to discredit.
Over 221 Billion dollars were transacted in Q2 of 2020 using Paypal. That represents a rise of 10% in volume in just six months. PayPal is growing and dominating online payments as well as other services such as credit and insurance.
It has a long-established reputation of occasionally freezing user funds and censoring payments that conflict with its outlook but the payments giant continues to hold relevance where Bitcoin should have long overtaken it. Perhaps this news marks the beginning of a transition?
Is PayPal’s announcement good news for Bitcoin? Until very recently, PayPal was anti-crypto. Writing in 2018, ex-CEO Bill Harris called Bitcoin “the greatest scam ever”, so what’s changed?
This sudden turnaround is encouraging, especially as private companies like Microstrategy and Square make grandiose announcements about their own crypto diversification.
Should the community embrace them with open arms? After all, this is the start of mass adoption we’ve all been waiting for, right?
When a household brand like PayPal starts selling Bitcoin, it’s probably not because they want to spur healthy adoption. In the press release announcing their new cryptocurrency service, PayPal sends out mixed messages.
On one hand, the service will be entirely custodial, meaning users will not have the key to their own coins, while on the other they intend to “provide account holders with educational content to help them understand the cryptocurrency ecosystem”. The idea that anyone informed about bitcoin would agree to not holding their private keys might indicate that this educational content will overlook the fundamental rule of “Not your keys; not your coins”.
If millions of newcomers are onboarded to Bitcoin by PayPal, there could be a very serious information gap that jeopardizes their experience and undermines key principles of cryptocurrency.
This statement from their FAQ is, in practical terms, false: “You own the Cryptocurrency you buy on PayPal but will not be provided with a private key.” No-one should consider money held entirely by a third party as owned by them.
Time after time, exchanges have lost user funds, often leaving them with no recourse. A benefit for some will be a promise of greater regulation, where funds can be insured and new users may feel more comfortable than dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges directly, but they will be restricted from actually utilizing their coins. The only reasons to own Bitcoin which cannot be used, would be to invest for the long term, which is incredibly reckless to do when your funds are held by a third party, or speculate on its price, which again, would be introducing the masses to financial mechanisms they do not understand.
Is PayPal positioned to be a cryptocurrency leader? As it steps into the forefront, PayPal will be closely watched by companies, institutions, and consumers. While they can boast of “digital payments expertise”, they have historically taken an aggressive stance against users who bought cryptocurrency on exchanges, citing their acceptable use policy, forbidding transactions which “involve currency exchanges or check cashing businesses”.
The fact that this clause remains in their policy suggests that they intend to limit users to use only their platform for cryptocurrency, stifling competition and preventing users from ever withdrawing their cryptocurrency to the safety of a wallet they control the keys to. That said, there is something to be said for PayPal’s statement that they will “enable cryptocurrency as a funding source for digital commerce at its 26 million merchants”. Currently, the options for cryptocurrency funding are in their infancy, and Bitcoin loans could see future growth. There is only one thing about PayPal’s announcement that long-term hodlers will be celebrating today: the pump in price. Long-term, if PayPal proceeds without consulting the community and letting their users control their own keys, it offers no value to the space.
The greatest risk is that the clout they carry in traditional electronic payments will be interpreted as expertise in crypto. This would threaten the expert advice so carefully crafted by our community, which could be drowned out by the misinformed masses that PayPal brings to the space. For now, no-one can tell how it will turn out, but there are big concerns to address before informed users will turn to PayPal.
Welcome PayPal’s initiative with open arms, but by no means look to them for leadership. At best, this announcement indicates that they may fear sinking into irrelevance.
*Do not use PayPal for Bitcoin; there are many other places to buy crypto which will let you keep ownership of your coins. *
PayPal is conceding to Bitcoin, and the many other aspirational, educational projects within the community should be highlighted to prevent newcomers from falling into a trap of trusting one of Bitcoin’s greatest long-term adversaries.
Source : https://blog.trezor.io/why-you-should-not-use-paypal-for-bitcoin-f6e2d436ca96
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