PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, announcing that its customers will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin and other virtual currencies using their PayPal accounts.
Those virtual coins could then be used to buy things from the 26 million sellers which accept PayPal, it said.
PayPal plans to roll out buying options in the US over the next few weeks, with the full rollout due early next year.
Bitcoin prices rose alongside the news, breaking the $12,000 (£9,170) mark.
The other cryptocurrencies to be added first will be Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash (a spin-off from Bitcoin).
All could be stored “directly within the PayPal digital wallet”, the company said.
Other payment firms, such as Square’s Cash app and Revolut, have already offered cryptocurrencies for sale. But PayPal has one of the largest merchant networks in the world.
When it comes to using the virtual coins, PayPal will convert the cryptocurrency into the relevant national currency, so the company being paid will never receive the virtual coins – just the correct amount of pounds or dollars.
PayPal said the system meant there would be “certainty of value and no incremental fees”.
But using Bitcoin to pay at ordinary merchants is not due to launch until “early 2021”.