DeFi, smart contracts on PayPal's radar as payments company looks to expand crypto footprint

Comments from PayPal chief executive Dan Schulman during the payments firm's second-quarter earnings call on Wednesday indicate an accelerating focus on cryptocurrency tech.

Schulman said "we continue to be really pleased with the momentum we're seeing on crypto," according to a transcript of the call, nodding to the crypto offering's expanded limits and the longer-term goal of allowing transfers to third-party wallets

But PayPal's crypto ambitions aren't limited to above, according to Schulman: "We are clearly thinking about what the next generation of the financial system looks like, how we can help shape that."

After highlighting the firm's conversations with regulators and long-term objective to potentially offer infrastructure for central bank digital currencies, Schulman pointed to potential technological applications, highlighting smart contracts and the decentralized finance ecosystem specifically.

Schulman said during the call:

"Imagine not having to send out stimulus checks, but sending those directly into a digital wallet where you instantaneously receive it and you don't have to go to a check-cashing location and exchange that and get charged for that exchange. There's just so many benefits to that. As well as just plain utility to payments. How can we use smart contracts more efficiently? How can we digitize assets and open those up to consumers that may not have had access to that before? There are some interesting DeFi applications as well. And so, we are working really hard."

The PayPal CEO also highlighted the hiring the firm has done around its crypto work.

"We have a list of names and phone numbers, and we are slowly but surely building a team that I think is going to really shape the thought process around this," he said.