Forbes’ “2021 Blockchain 50 Symposium: Crypto Goes Corporate” event sheds light on the future of Bitcoin for large corporations.
As the price of Bitcoin continues to reach new all-time highs, major corporations with existing crypto offerings in place are beginning to discuss grand plans for the future.
Most recently, Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, hinted at future developments for PayPal’s crypto offering during Forbes’ “2021 Blockchain 50 Symposium: Crypto Goes Corporate,” an online event that took place on April 13.
During a fireside chat with Michael del Castillo, associate editor at Forbes, Schulman mentioned that the financial system will undergo more changes over the next five years compared to the progress that has been made in the previous 30 years. Schulman further noted that digital currencies, like Bitcoin (BTC), will lead the way, mentioning that there will be far less cash and credit card transactions in the next five to 10 years. Schulman said:
“We are moving into the era of digital currencies, and those digital currencies hold tremendous promise, whether these are cryptocurrencies or central bank digital currencies. I believe digital currencies can increase the utility of payments and make the financial system more inclusive and less expensive.”
Digital currencies will create financial inclusion
According to Schulman, one of the biggest challenges facing society today is the fact that millions of people everywhere are being excluded from today’s financial system. This has become especially apparent in the United States, as Americans with bank accounts have started receiving their latest round of economic stimulus checks via direct deposit. Unfortunately, millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans must wait much longer to receive paper checks in the mail.
Schulman noted that today’s financial system is relatively inefficient, mentioning that it takes too long to receive money, which is even more challenging for lower-income individuals. “It’s not inclusive at all,” he said.
In order to solve these ongoing issues, Schulman explained that PayPal’s crypto offering, which went live in the United States in November 2021, will eventually allow users to do more than just buy, sell and hold Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). While PayPal revealed at the end of March that the platform would soon allow its merchants to accept cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange, Schulman hinted that this is just the beginning of many possibilities:
“PayPal really wants to use cryptocurrency as a funding source for everyday transactions. The endgame, though, is a more noble vision of this inclusive economy, and things will be done much differently than today.”
In addition to crypto payments, Schulman shared that PayPal will eventually leverage smart contracts and other underlying technologies to ensure that a payment is more than just a transaction. “This is the promise of all digital currencies — they can create incremental value from just a basic transaction.”
Digital currency innovation could take longer than expected
While PayPal’s crypto plans are notable, it’s important to point out that innovation may take longer than expected. For instance, when del Castillo asked Schulman about how long he expects PayPal’s crypto service to reach $200 million in volume, Schulman boldly answered that it would take only a matter of months, or maybe less.
Although this is encouraging for crypto adoption, del Castillo noted that it took Coinbase Commerce, a platform that supports cryptocurrency payments for online retailers, 13 months to generate $200 million in volume.
However, Cointelegraph previously reported that the success of Coinbase Commerce was partly due to the 8,000 retailers currently using Coinbase for payment services. Schulman mentioned during the fireside chat that PayPal has over 375 million consumers of digital wallets and about 30 million merchants on the platform. In turn, PayPal may very well break new boundaries when it comes to digital payments for commerce.
No plans to add Bitcoin to PayPal’s balance sheet
Although Schulman appears to have a highly optimistic attitude toward cryptocurrency adoption, the executive shared that there are still no plans to add Bitcoin to PayPal’s balance sheet in 2021. “I think the probability of this is low,” he said.
When asked why, Schulman explained that PayPal’s balance sheet consists of safe assets with less volatility since funds need to be used in ways that may return money to shareholders. “We really need to be sure of what’s on that balance sheet to ensure consistent capital allocation,” Schulman said.
While this may be, Michael Saylor, chairman and CEO of MicroStrategy, has a different belief regarding Bitcoin’s volatility. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as the business intelligence firm recently announced that its board of directors would receive bonuses in Bitcoin instead of fiat.
Saylor also shared his thoughts on the future of Bitcoin during Forbes’ “2021 Blockchain 50 Symposium: Crypto Goes Corporate” event. During a fireside chat with Steve Ehrlich, digital assets research director at Forbes, Saylor commented that there has been “a huge change across the sentiment in the corporate world” toward Bitcoin. However, he noted that thousands of companies are still hesitant to add Bitcoin to their balance sheet for two reasons: volatility and intangible accounting.
According to Saylor, volatility is a misnomer, noting that Bitcoin has been the most successful asset of the decade because it has been doubling in price every six months for 10 years straight. Saylor commented:
“The winning team of everything on earth is always the most volatile. Anyone who thinks volatility is bad must be betting on losers.”
Saylor further explained that the only logical reason why most companies still haven’t added Bitcoin to their balance sheet is due to intangible accounting methods, noting this is more problematic than volatility. Although this may be the case for many companies, Saylor remarked that MicroStrategy’s balance sheet will be 99% invested in Bitcoin. He said:
“Our strategy is to develop, acquire and hold Bitcoin. Crypto and Bitcoin are gaining acceptance and adoption. If you look at March 2020 versus where we are today, you can see it’s an extraordinary developing asset class. I also think the Coinbase direct listing will be a massive coming out party for the crypto economy.”