PayPal (PYPL 0.37%) made headlines late last year when the company announced a move into cryptocurrency. One analyst believes that the full measure of that opportunity isn't yet baked into its price and could drive PayPal stock to a new all-time high.
BTIG analyst Mark Palmer upgraded the stock to buy from neutral (hold), saying it would gain traction from its nascent cryptocurrency platform, which could add more than $1 billion in revenue to PayPal's coffers by 2022.
PayPal is using crypto brokerage Paxos to power its cryptocurrency transactions. The company "has seen its trading volumes rise impressively in recent weeks," according to Palmer. The analyst goes on to posit that "the vast majority" of the increase in trading volume is the result of transactions by PayPal customers.
Late last year, PayPal announced the launch of a service that would allow users to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrency in their PayPal account. In addition, users could learn about digital currencies and track prices, all without ever leaving the app.
But that's just the beginning. PayPal will accept cryptocurrency as a payment method beginning this year and plans to extend its crypto service to Venmo users.
Tangential evidence suggests that Palmer is right on the money. Investors need look no further than Square (SQ 7.00%) to get a sense of the opportunity resulting from cryptocurrency transactions. In the third quarter, Square generated total net revenue of $3.03 billion, up 140% year over year, but excluding bitcoin revenue, net revenue was $1.4 billion, up just 25%. That suggests that crypto has effectively doubled Square's net revenue.
This highlights the massive potential resulting from PayPal's move. Additionally, its stock has doubled over the past year on the accelerating adoption of digital payments, so it isn't far-fetched to think PayPal could gain another 23% in the coming year.