The popular payments app Venmo has announced that it has launched the ability to buy, sell and hold bitcoin to its more than 70 million customers.
"Crypto on Venmo is a new way for the Venmo community to start exploring the world of crypto, within the Venmo environment they trust and rely on as a key component of their everyday financial lives," said Darrell Esch, senior vice president and general manager of Venmo, per the release.
The company’s strategy is to allow its users to venture into the world of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including ether, litecoin and bitcoin cash, by removing barriers of entry and demystifying part of the process. Esch emphasized that its goal is to help users feel comfortable leveraging cryptocurrencies, guiding the Venmo community “to learn and explore cryptocurrencies on a trusted platform.”
Being able to interact with bitcoin directly in the Venmo app is appealing for those who wouldn’t have ventured into the cryptocurrency otherwise but Bitcoiners are prone to criticize the lack of one key feature: the ability to withdraw bitcoin.
Sovereignty over one’s funds is arguably the most fundamental aspect of Bitcoin, yet it appears from the release that Venmo is completely dismissing it, just as its parent company PayPal did in its own addition of cryptocurrency services. The lack of this critical feature may be a turn off for many Bitcoiners who seek to take control of their private keys.
Still, Venmo, similarly to PayPal, will surely help increase the adoption of Bitcoin by allowing its more than 70 million users to buy, sell and hold the asset. However, by preventing users from being sovereign over their funds, the company could end up undermining the very network it wants to support, unwillingly or not.