PayPal rolls out crypto ramps, Franklin Templeton joins BTC ETF race, and more

Without aggressive marketing tactics, fintech giant PayPal is quietly and consistently venturing deeper into the crypto space, rolling out features and building key partnerships to advance its digital assets strategy.

This week, PayPal unveiled new on-ramps and off-ramps for cryptocurrencies for its clients in the United States — a noteworthy step for the country, particularly as many crypto firms struggle with supporting fiat-crypto conversions since the United States Securities and Exchange Commission began its controversial crackdown on the industry.

Also deepening ties with the crypto ecosystem is the traditional asset manager firm Franklin Templeton. The company filed for a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the U.S., joining a long list of major investment firms seeking approval for a Bitcoin investment product, including names such as BlackRock, Fidelity and WisdomTree, among many others.

With new participants joining the digital assets world daily, it’s evident that crypto is becoming more mainstream, even in the face of a long bearish market.

This week’s Crypto Biz looks at PayPal’s crypto gateway, Franklin Templeton’s BTC ETF filing, Coinbase’s Lightning Network integration, and Meta’s plans for a new AI model.

PayPal enables US users to sell cryptocurrency via MetaMask wallet

PayPal continues expanding its digital asset services, integrating new methods to sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The payments giant introduced on Sept. 11 new on- and off-ramps for Web3 payments, allowing users in the U.S. to convert their crypto to U.S. dollars directly from their wallets into their PayPal balance. The off-ramp feature is available to wallets, decentralized applications and nonfungible token marketplaces and is live on MetaMask. The latest rollout came shortly after PayPal partnered with hardware wallet firm Ledger to provide a new on-ramp integration in August 2023, allowing verified users in the U.S. to buy Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) directly on a Ledger hardware wallet.

Promotional video for PayPal’s on- and off-ramps. Source: YouTube

Franklin Templeton files for spot Bitcoin ETF

Asset manager Franklin Templeton applied with the U.S. SEC on Sept. 12 to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF. The S-1 registration statement comes after the SEC delayed decisions on spot ETF applications from WisdomTree, Valkyrie, Fidelity, VanEck, Bitwise and Invesco on Aug. 31 and a court ruling on Aug. 29 that the SEC must consider Grayscale’s application to convert its BTC futures ETF into a spot ETF. According to the application, the fund would be structured as a trust. Coinbase would custody the BTC, and Bank of New York Mellon would be the cash custodian and administrator. Franklin Templeton has $1.5 trillion in assets under management.

Meta is building an AI model to rival OpenAI’s most powerful system

Social media giant Meta is developing a new artificial intelligence (AI) model that will rival OpenAI’s most advanced version. According to sources from The Wall Street Journal, the new model will be “several times” more powerful than its Llama 2 model, which Meta released earlier this year. Llama was trained on 70 billion parameters, and while OpenAI hasn’t released its parameters for GPT-4, they’re estimated to be around 1.5 trillion. Meta’s new system will be open-source, allowing other companies to build AI tools to produce high-level text, analysis and other types of output with it. The company has also been building the data centers necessary to create such a high-level system while acquiring more of Nvidia’s H100 semiconductor chips.

Coinbase to integrate Bitcoin Lightning Network: CEO Brian Armstrong

Crypto exchange Coinbase has confirmed its decision to integrate layer-2 payment protocol Lightning Network (LN) as users seek faster and cheaper Bitcoin transactions. Until recently, major crypto exchanges, including Coinbase and Binance, had no intent to adopt the layer-2 solution, as many community members argued that LN integration offered fewer incentives for exchanges’ income. Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, asked the crypto community to be patient during the integration process. LN was created to help solve Bitcoin’s scalability problem and to compete against projects promising faster and cheaper transactions. The decision comes a month after Viktor Bunin, a protocol specialist at Coinbase, started investigating the feasibility of LN integration.

We’re looking into how to best add Lightning. It’s non-trivial, but I think worth doing. I’m all for payments taking off in Bitcoin.

Not sure why you think we’re ignoring Bitcoin – we’ve onboarded more people to Bitcoin than probably any company in the world.

Let’s build it… https://t.co/9dFGYd6XZt

— Brian Armstrong ️ (@brian_armstrong) August 2, 2023

Crypto Biz is your weekly pulse on the business behind blockchain and crypto, delivered directly to your inbox every Thursday.

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