Payments giant PayPal announced a new board member this morning, potentially signaling the company’s openness to cryptocurrencies. Wences Casares, CEO of bitcoin wallet provider Xapo, joined PayPal’s board and is part of the company’s compensation committee.
Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal (PYPL), said of the entrepreneur: “Wences’s unique line of sight into the future of commerce is ideally aligned with PayPal’s vision of transforming the management and movement of money for people around the globe.”
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Casares is a serial entrepreneur, founding Argentina’s first Internet service provider as well as a gaming company (acquired by Activision) and digital wallet startup Lemon (bought by LifeLock, with which Casares is currently embroiled in a lawsuit.)[9:2
His newest startup, Xapo, allows people to purchase bitcoins and manage them in a digital wallet. Users can spend their bitcoins through a Xapo debit card or store them in a quasi savings account. One of the financial technology industry’s hottest bitcoin startups, Xapo has raised $40 million in funding from a number of well-known Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneurs, including PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, former PayPal CEO David Marcus, Greylock Partners, and Benchmark.
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Casares brings his cryptocurrency experience to PayPal, which started allowing its merchants to accept bitcoin in 2015. Schulman, who officially took over the reins of a newly public PayPal in July 2015, has been open about his excitement for alternative currencies and new technologies in “fintech.”
At a Business Insider conference in December 2014, Schulman said he was particularly interested in the potential of blockchain technology, which is the distributed transaction processing engine behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.