PayPal Inc, one of the world’s leading payments companies, said it exceeded its target for crypto transactions in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The company said its new active accounts rose by 16 million and processed a $277 billion in total payment volume in the quarter.
PayPal said its transaction revenue rose by around 12 percent from the third quarter of 2020 to $5.7 billion in the final quarter.
While the company said it will recognise transaction revenue from its crypto buys, sell and hold product, it will not include crypto transactions in its total payment volume.
“The volume of crypto traded on our platform greatly exceeded our projections,” PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “We’re excited to build on this early success by allowing customers to use their crypto balance as a funding source. … We hope to launch our first international market in the next several months.”
Schulman added that PayPal is presently working with regulators and central banks to shape the “next generation of the financial system.”
Banking Giant BBVA Opens Bitcoin Trading and Custody Service in Switzerland
Spanish banking giant BBVA’s swiss entity, BBVA Switzerland, has started offering bitcoin trading and custody services.
Announcing the news on Friday, BBVA Switzerland said the services will be available to all of its private banking clients from Monday, June 21. The launch comes six months after the bank began trialing the services in Switzerland.
“This gradual roll-out has allowed BBVA Switzerland to test the service’s operations, strengthen security and, above all, detect that there is a significant desire among investors for crypto-assets or digital assets as a way of diversifying their portfolios, despite their volatility and high risk,” said Alfonso Gomez, CEO of BBVA Switzerland.
While the bank currently only supports bitcoin, it said the aim is to also offer other cryptocurrencies in the future. As for the launch of the services in other countries, BBVA Switzerland said that would depend on maturity, demand, and regulation in those markets.
BBVA said its bitcoin services are novel as clients can manage their investments alongside traditional assets in the same portfolio. Customers willing to convert their bitcoin into fiat and vice versa can do so “without delays and without the illiquidity that affects other digital wallets or independent brokers,” said BBVA. That’s because the bank operates with several sources for converting cryptocurrencies, it said, without disclosing those sources.
BBVA’s services come as more mega-banks open up to the crypto space. In recent weeks, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon, and other financial institutions have moved to provide crypto services to their clients.
Goldman Sachs Partners Crypto Management Firm Galaxy Digital, Offers Bitcoin Futures
Galaxy Digital’s co-president Damien Vanderwilt announced today that his firm has partnered with Goldman Sachs to help provide bitcoin futures products. The partnership marks one of the first occasions where an American multinational investment bank has partnered with a crypto asset service provider.
Galaxy Digital is a financial services and investment management innovator founded by the company’s CEO Mike Novogratz. Vanderwilt explains that Goldman Sachs, the bank with $2.1 trillion assets under management (AUM), may entice other financial incumbents to follow its lead.
“There’s a whole dynamic with the major banks that I’ve seen time and time again: safety in numbers,” Vanderwilt explained during his discussion about the subject. “Once one bank is out there doing this, the other banks will have [fear of missing out] and they’ll get on-boarded because their clients have been asking for it.”
According to Vanderwilt, Goldman depends on Galaxy because regulatory policy stops the multinational investment bank from handling the leading crypto asset directly. Max Minton, head of digital assets for Goldman’s Asia-Pacific region said during the announcement that the bank procures clientele with the assets they demand.
“Our goal is to equip our clients with best-execution pricing and secure access to the assets they want to trade,” Minton remarked. “In 2021, this now includes crypto, and we are pleased to have found a partner with a broad range of liquidity venues and differentiated derivatives capabilities spanning the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”
The statements from Minton and Vanderwilt follow the report that said Goldman was prepping to offer ether futures and options swaps. At the time, Goldman said “institutional adoption will continue” in the crypto space.
In mid-April Galaxy Digital revealed it had entered the bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) fray when it submitted its Form S-1 registration with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).
Vanderwilt also said that when more institutional players join the crypto ecosystem volatility will grow less and less.
“You’re moving the market participants from being north of 90% retail, a huge chunk of which have access to ridiculous amounts of leverage, into an institutional community, who have proper, tried-and-tested rules and regulations about leverage, asset-liability mismatch, and risk,” Vanderwilt concluded.
“The more activity that moves into the institutional community, the less volatility there will be.”
Bank CEO Calls for Increased AML & Compliance Initiatives to Counter Funding of Terrorism in Crypto
Last month, the Kenya Bankers Association had their regular CEO Chat, this time with Alakh Kohli, CEO of M Oriental Bank. He noted that, without further regulatory guidance from government agencies, his bank didn’t plan to increase access to digital currency services.
In particular, he addressed the need to have a more uniform industry standard to deal with countering bad actors intent on utilizing cryptocurrency as a method to launder money and fund terrorist operations.
“For years, I’ve been talking about the need to crackdown on the nefarious activity which resides in the cryptocurrency community. Iran has notably aimed to utilize blockchain technologies to avoid international sanctions. And exchange operators utilize different thresholds of security to prevent money laundering. It is in the best interest of the industry’s long-term longevity that we come together with government agencies to root out the bad actors and end their chicanery,” opined Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges.
In the interview, Kohli noted that “at the moment we have no plans on rolling out any digital currency services in the absence of a regulatory framework. This is an evolving space, once the right frameworks are in place to address the risks, including Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism and underlying asset concerns for it to be a store of value; I’m sure there will be offerings coming to the market. What is more exciting is the blockchain technology which digital currencies are based on is already being adopted by banks for enhancing and offering new and disruptive product innovations.”
“It isn’t just his bank. Many institutions are waiting for guidance from the jurisdiction in which they operate. We need a clear set of rules. A set of rules that sets a bar for exchange operators to measure themselves against. Responding to the lack of regulatory guidance, we’ve been advising clients to self-regulate and integrate all the AML & KYC security enhancements available before any mandates are in place. It is better to be ahead of the curve than to simply be responsive,” noted Gardner.
Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago. Earlier this year, Modulus filed for a patent on its Exchange Trust Score System, a revolutionary solution which aims to restore trust in financial exchanges, particularly those dealing in digital assets and cryptocurrencies, and giving regulators an additional tool by which to gauge the integrity of an exchange.
“On the one hand, exchanges need a framework to operate safely. On the other hand, investors need to know which exchanges they can trust. None of the features in the world matter if your exchange isn’t safe. We’ve been focusing on exchange security for the past two decades. Even after building an exchange that approached the laws of physics in terms of transaction speed, that wasn’t enough. Those features are only as good as the security behind them. It is time that the government brings industry insiders to the table to discuss a commonsense set of regulations which will keep the public safe and foster even greater innovation in the industry,” Gardner said.
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