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PayPal’s Crypto Offering Swells With New Fiat Off-Ramp Solution Following Regulatory Green Light

Published September 12, 2023 10:34 AM
James Morales
Published September 12, 2023 10:34 AM
Key Takeaways
  • PayPal has entertained various crypto ambitions during the past decade.
  • However, a cautious approach to regulatory compliance has slowed the firm’s product rollout.
  • Now, the digital payments pioneer is moving with increased confidence in the crypto space.
  • In its latest product launch, PayPal has introduced a new crypto-to-fiat off-ramp solution for Web3 payments.

PayPal is a digital payments giant that has helped define what it means to transact in the online space. But until recently, the company’s approach to cryptocurrency—arguably the twenty-first century’s greatest innovation in the field of digital money—has been conspicuously cautious. 

Now, however, PayPal increasingly throwing its weight around in the space. In the latest addition to its crypto offering, PayPal has launched a new fiat off-ramp solution for US dollars.

The History of PayPal’s Crypto Ventures

Since its inception at the turn of the millennium, few companies have done more than PayPal to popularize the use of digital wallets and bring digital payments to the masses.

Yet the firm’s history with cryptocurrency is full of false starts, u-turns and unrealized plans.

PayPal first expressed interest in cryptocurrencies back in 2013, when its then-Presiden David Marcus called the concept “truly fascinating,” in an interview  with Bloomberg.

“I think that for us at PayPal, it’s just a question of whether Bitcoin will make its way to PayPal’s funding instrument or not. We’re kinda thinking about it,” he added.

However, it wasn’t until 2020 that PayPal started integrating crypto into its platform with the launch  of a service enabling US users to buy, hold and sell popular cryptocurrencies directly from their PayPal account. 

A year later, the firm introduced  “Checkout with Crypto.” The service allowed users to fund fiat-denominated purchases with their crypto balances, automating the process of converting crypto to fiat at the point of purchase.

In 2023, PayPal has further upped the ante, launching its own stablecoin—PYUSD.

The company’s latest crypto product, launched on Tuesday, September 12, introduces a new crypto-to-fiat off-ramp for Web3 payments. 

Bridging Crypto and Fiat Payment Infrastructures

Announcing the recent launch, PayPal stated  that, “by adding Off Ramps, crypto wallet users in the US can convert their crypto to USD directly from their wallets into their PayPal.

By integrating two of the most popular crypto wallets today, Metamask and Ledger, PayPal is positioning itself as a bridge between fiat and crypto-native payments, where browser extensions have become the most popular way to connect to NFT marketplaces and other Web3 apps.

As the popularity of Web3 platforms has bloomed in recent years, the need for separate tools to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on the one hand, and to make payments on the other, has created unnecessary friction for users.

Significantly, PayPal isn’t the only player in the space attempting to close the gap between wallets and exchanges.

Metamask, for example, introduced Metamask Portfolio  earlier this year. In contrast to the company’s traditional business model, whereby Metamask functioned as a way to connect to exchanges, but not as an exchange itself, the new product empowered users to buy, swap, stake and bridge their digital assets from a single unified interface. 

Now, in the latest feature  added to Metamask Portfolio, users can finally cash out their crypto for fiat currency without the need for intermediaries. By aggregating quotes from different providers, the new functionality allows users to compare exchange rates and easily receive pounds, euros or dollars in their bank account or PayPal wallet.

Regulators Force PayPal to Slam the Brakes on Crypto 

PayPal’s growing interest in the crypto sector has emerged almost in lockstep with the advance of global crypto regulations.

During the early days of the space, it was easy to buy and sell cryptocurrencies anonymously. However, in recent years, exchanges and other crypto firms have enforced increasingly strict Know Your Customer (KYC) controls as proscribed by AML regulation.

Rather than risk running afoul of financial regulators, companies like PayPal have typically erred on the side of caution. 

Bound by the rules of complex, overlapping regimes, balancing innovation with regulatory compliance has slowed the rollout of PayPal’s crypto offerings.

For example, in the US, the initial launch of PYUSD was stalled after regulators increased their scrutiny of cryptocurrencies

Originally slated for an early 2023 debut, PayPal’s stablecoin was temporarily shelved  in February. 

Following news that the company’s partner in the venture, Paxos, was being investigated by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), PYUSD was put on ice until it was revived in August.

Another instance of PayPal’s regulatory balancing act can be observed in the UK.

After the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced regulations governing the promotion of crypto assets, PayPal said it would suspend exchange services in the country while it works to comply with the new rules.

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