Online payment platform PayPal said it will allow British users to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies as the company expands its digital money offering outside the US for the first time.
The US firm said the new services allow UK customers “to explore cryptocurrency” with the platform offering a choice of four to transact on: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.
Jose Fernandez da Ponte, vice president and general manager, blockchain, crypto and digital currencies at PayPal, said the pandemic has accelerated digital change and innovation "across all aspects of our lives, including the digitisation of money and greater consumer adoption of digital financial services”.
The expansion comes after the company reported a 23 per cent fall in its annual second-quarter net profit in July, despite adding 11.4 million new active accounts.
The California-based company’s net profit in the three months to June 30 slumped to $1.2 billion, about $346 million less than the same period a year earlier, it said.
Although revenue during the quarter increased 19 per cent on an annual basis to $6.24bn, it missed analyst expectations of $6.27bn.
In its latest expansion of its services, the company said a new cryptocurrency tab will be added to its platform, showing real-time currency prices with digital currencies available both via the PayPal app and its website.
The expansion will start this week with the service available to all eligible customers within the next few weeks.
Mr Fernandez da Ponte said the firm was committed to “working closely with regulators in the UK and around the world” to offer support and "meaningfully contribute" to shaping the role digital currencies will play in the future of global finance and commerce.
Central bankers are sceptical about crypto assets, which have experienced sharp rises and falls over the past few years with some investors making vast sums and others losing their life savings.
In May, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde sounded the alarm over the use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering, saying investors were taking a "real risk".
Her comments came a day after Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey warned investors to buy cryptos only "if you're prepared to lose all your money".
In April PayPal-owned mobile payments service Venmo started allowing users in the US buy, hold or sell cryptocurrency through its app.
That followed PayPal's March move allowing US residents to use cryptocurrency to make purchases from millions of merchants that use the financial platform for online transactions.