Venmo app adds cryptocurrency trading for the millennial set

April 20, 2021, 10:00 AM UTC

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PayPal has had some success with attracting customers to buy and sell digital currencies in its main app, so now the company is expanding crypto trading to its millennial-focused Venmo app as well.

Starting on Tuesday, the over 70 million users of the Venmo payments app will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash, the same four currencies that have been available in the PayPal app since November.

Customers can trade in increments of as little as $1 but, like the PayPal program, the digital currency can’t be transferred to other services or apps. Venmo will charge transaction fees and a small spread between how much it charges to buy versus to sell. The company is also adding educational videos to its app to explain how digital currencies work.

The move comes as various payment platforms are racing to capture the excitement over skyrocketing digital currency prices. Square, Visa, Mastercard, and others have all recently announced new digital currency features for their customers. Feeding the frenzy is the price of Bitcoin, the leading digital currency, which jumped from around $7,000 a year ago to over $56,000 on Monday, though it fell from an all-time high of more than $64,000 just a few days earlier.

Venmo said a customer survey it conducted in October found that 30% of its users were already trading crypto or stocks.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with an easy-to-use platform that simplifies the process of buying and selling cryptocurrencies and demystifies some of the common questions and misconceptions that consumers may have,” PayPal senior vice president Darrell Esch, who runs the Venmo service, said in a statement.

Venmo’s younger audience loves the app’s social feed, which can show off transactions to all of a user’s contacts, so the crypto trading will also be showcased in the feed (the median age of Venmo users is in the low thirties). Venmo users are supposed to be at least 18 years old, and the company didn’t add any additional requirements for its new crypto trading feature.

PayPal, which bought Venmo owner Braintree in 2013 for $800 million, hasn’t said much about how much cryptocurrency trading has taken place in its main app since the feature went live in November, revealing only that people log in to the app twice as much after they buy some digital currency. But in March it announced an expansion to let stores and merchants using its service sell items for crypto instead of dollars.

(Correction: This story was updated on April 20 to correct that Venmo is charging transaction fees for cryptocurrency trading.)

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