PayPal Eyes Blockchain Identity Space in New Series A Investment

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Another wrinkle of intrigue hitting the buzzing cryptoeconomy this week is the news that mainstream payments powerhouse PayPal has confirmed an investment into a rising Massachusetts blockchain startup.

The move notably marks an inaugural direct foray into the distributed ledger ecosystem for the high-profile former eBay spin-off. That startup, Cambridge Blockchain, is an identity management play that leverages blockchain technology to facilitate identity compliance solutions for institutions.

How to Buy Bitcoin with PayPal

PayPal was tight-lipped on their confirmation of the Series A investment, with a company spokesperson telling CoinDesk that Cambridge Blockchain’s work seemed poised to be fruitful going forward.

“We made an investment in Cambridge Blockchain because it is applying blockchain for digital identity in a way that we believe could benefit financial services companies including PayPal. Our investment will allow us to explore potential collaborations to leverage blockchain technology.”

The two companies aren’t strangers, either. PayPal’s sponsorship of the Fintech Europe 2018 accelerator campaign led to the firm’s first contacts with Cambridge Blockchain, who were participants in that event. Those contacts eventually evolved to the point where the startup started working with PayPal’s venture arm, PayPal Ventures, late last year.

Neither companies have yet to reveal how much PayPal’s investment was, yet Cambridge’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicate it was a sum that was less than $3.5 million USD.

Accordingly, the investment wasn’t for a staggering amount, but it does definitively raise the prospect of PayPal making further — and perhaps bigger — overtures toward blockchain tech in the future.

As for what comes next for the meld, it’s an open question for now.

“We can’t talk specifically about anything commercially that we are doing because it’s all sort of exploratory now,” Cambridge Blockchain chief executive officer Matthew Commons noted on the news.

Cambridge Blockchain a Member of Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA)

Cambridge Blockchain’s software could be used in conjunction with all distributed ledgers, so it’s not just centered around any single project or platform.

With that said, the startup has done plenty of work on specific chains, not least of which has come from their membership in the rather impressive ranks of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), which Cambridge joined last year.

The EEA is a “member-led industry organization” who focuses on facilitating innovation around Ethereum in order to “empower ALL enterprises,” per the group’s website. Cambridge has been in good company there, as the body boasts hundreds of members including high-profile heavyweights like Microsoft, Intel, and JP Morgan.

As such, PayPal now interestingly has an indirect stake in the EEA via its growing involvement in Cambridge.

Facebook Looking at Blockchain for Identity, Too

PayPal isn’t the only mainstream power looking at blockchain for identity-based use cases.

Back in February, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the social media company’s leadership had been exploring the idea of blockchain-based distributed logins.

“You […] take your information, you store it on some decentralized system, and you have the choice of whether to log in in different places, and you’re not going through an intermediary,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

What will come of these recent deliberations remains to be seen, but they come as Facebook increasingly has blockchain on the brain.

DataLight: BTC Volume Bests PayPal in 2018

In other recent PayPal news, crypto analytics firm DataLight determined in a new report that Bitcoin trounced the PayPal network when it came to total transaction volume last year.

DataLight found that the Bitcoin network facilitated nearly $3.5 trillion in transactions in 2018. That sum was considerably more than the $578 billion that PayPal facilitated in the same span.

Crypto proponents will say that reality shows PayPal should realize the insurgent blockchain space is worthy of more than just respect.


William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Bitcoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster

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