By Jon Russell for Techcrunch.com,
PayPal has made a notable move to position itself for the future of money and currency after it added seasoned fintech figure and bitcoin entrepreneur Wences Casares to its board.
Argentina-born Casares has packed a lot into his 41 years. He’s currently CEO and founder of Xapo, a bitcoin payments startup that has raised $40 million to date, but his past ventures include digital wallet company Lemon (acquired by LifeLock for $42.6 million in 2014), Argentina’s first ISP, an online brokerage (Patagon which was bought by Spanish bank Banco Santander for $750 million) and New York-based Wanako Games.
No doubt a financial technology visionary, Casares has become best known for pioneering bitcoin in recent times and that’s exactly why PayPal has added him to its board, increasing the total number of seats to nine.
Getting him involved in the company will help PayPal, which made a major push to adopt bitcoin in 2014, in a number of ways. That could include identifying and acquiring promising bitcoin companies, and increasing its focus on and awareness of alternative payment technologies that could unlock new opportunities for its business worldwide.
“I join PayPal’s directors and the entire PayPal team in welcoming Wences to our Board,” Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal, said in a statement. “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.”
“I am honored to serve on the board of an iconic global company dedicated to driving the transformation of money on a global scale. I look forward to working together with the PayPal board and leadership team to continue to deliver their compelling vision,” Casares said.
Bitcoin may (still) be dismissed by many as some kind of digital gold rush 2.0 but, as we’ve said many times before, the technology that underpins the cryptocurrency itself has vast potential for the future. For one thing, it could ease the pain of international money transfers. “Bitcoin” the phrase may put people off but those involved in transactions can take advantage of the benefits of blockchain technology, such as far lower fees, without ever knowing that bitcoin is involved. It’s exciting to see PayPal, the daddy of online payments and a true disruptor when it started out, open itself up to these new possibilities.