Bitcoin firm Circle raises $50 million
Bitcoin startup Circle Internet Financial Ltd. announced last week that it closed a new $50-million strategic investment round that was co-led by Goldman Sachs and China-based IDG Capital Partners.
Goldman Sachs and IDG were joined by all of the Boston-based Circle’s existing investors, in the round, including Breyer Capital, General Capital Partners, Accel Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Fenway Summer, Digital Currency Group, Pantera Capital, and strategic individuals.
“We could not be happier with our new strategic investors,” wrote Circle co-founder and chief executive Jeremy Allaire in a company blog post. “They bring unique, powerful capabilities that will help us continue building a new kind of global consumer finance company, one based on open platforms, open source software, and ubiquitous mobile devices.”
The company plans to allocate the funding to product development and global expansion, said Allaire to Bloomberg. Some of the funds may support the marketing of a new feature that lets Circle users hold, send, and receive U.S. dollars with no fees. Bloomberg reported that the feature will help Circle turn into a global money transfer service, a peer-to-peer payment service, and a bank. Allaire told the news outlet that eventually there are plans to move into other currencies, such as the Chinese yuan.
“We think of ourselves as a consumer-finance company,” Allaire told Bloomberg. “With the advent of open Internet platforms, it’s now possible to provide some of the traditional capabilities that traditional retail banking provided, as a free service.”
Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, told the Los Angeles Times that Goldman Sachs’s investment shows the importance the financial sector is starting to assign to Bitcoin.
“This is something tech folks in Silicon Valley have realized is really disruptive and can change a lot of industries, and Wall Street is finally walking up to that reality,” Brito said.
The New York Times reported that Circle plans to apply for New York’s proposed BitLicense, and the company already holds ordinary money-transmitter licenses from many other states.
“Up until now Bitcoin has really been driven by the speculative value phase,” said Allaire to the newspaper. “We’ve said it needs to move to the utility value phase.”
Circle logo and Jeremy Allaire’s headshot – Via Circle’s news page
Jerry Brito headshot – via CoinCenter.org (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License)