They may be hesitant to embrace crypto publicly, but internally it’s a different story. After six months in development, PayPal has rolled out a new employee rewards program – built on the blockchain and utilizing its own native cryptocurrency.
The new blockchain-based rewards platform, which launched last month, lets PayPal employees earn tokens through the contribution of ideas and participation in innovation-related programs.
While the tokens have no value outside of PayPal, employees can trade them among themselves and redeem them for various company perks and “experiences.” Each of these transactions is recorded on the platform’s public ledger.
Michael Todasco, the Director of Innovation at PayPal, explained:
PayPal’s tokens are redeemable for more than 100 ‘experiences’ offered on the platform, including poker tournaments with a couple of their vice presidents, a trail run and coffee with CFO John Rainey, and morning martial arts with CEO Dan Schulman. Gabrielle Scheibe Rabinovitch, the company’s head of investor relations, has offered to let employees borrow her dog for a day.
Todasco likened the platform to a “Venmo-like feed people can like and comment on and see all the activity going on within PayPal related to innovation.”
PayPal’s Stance on Bitcoin
Despite dipping its toes in the crypto pool internally, PayPal’s public stance on cryptocurrencies – especially Bitcoin – has been decidedly tepid.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, PayPal CFO John Rainey was asked if the payment platform would ever accept cryptocurrencies, to which he replied:
We were one of the first companies to allow the acceptance of bitcoin on our platform: Our Braintree platform started accepting those in 2014 or 2015. We allowed our merchants, if that is how they wanted to be paid, in bitcoin, to do so.
Given the volatility of bitcoin right now, it’s not a reliable currency for transactions because if you’re a merchant and you have a 10% profit margin, and you accept bitcoin, and the very next day bitcoin drops 15%, you are now underwater on that transaction.
A few months later, in May, Rainey told CNBC’s Mad Money that there hasn’t been much interest in Bitcoin from the platform’s merchants but that if it were to stabilize in the future and become a “better currency” then they would support it.
While Rainey seems to have adopted a “wait and see” attitude with regards to Bitcoin, former PayPal CEO Bill Harris is a vocal and unabashed critic of the digital currency.
In August of this year, Harris was unequivocal in his criticism, declaring on CNBC’s Fast Money that Bitcoin was “useless as a payment mechanism” and “ridiculous as a store of value.”
Do you think that PayPal will ever accept Bitcoin – or any other cryptocurrency – as a means of payment? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, DepositPhotos