Dublin-based fintech firm Circle raises $110m in funding round

Thursday, 17 May, 2018

Circle started in 2014 as a peer-to-peer payments service based on Bitcoin, and has since then ventured further into the cryptocurrency space.

The USD-C token will be based off of the Ethereum network, and Circle's subsidiary company, Centre will manage its protocol. The announcement, according to Coin Desk, also means the company now values itself at $3 billion and is now officially a unicorn. In its earlier investment rounds, Circle received investments from other big-name companies such as Goldman Sachs Group and Baidu, making it one of the most well-funded blockchain start-ups on the market. Blockchain Capital and Tusk Ventures are investing in Circle for the first time.

The new cryptocurrency will be called USDC (USD Coin) and will provide a simple web application for customers to use and buy USDC tokens for payments and trading in the ecosystem.

Circle is having a big year.

The deal comes just a few months after Circle purchased Poloniex, a Boston-based cryptocurrency exchange in a deal valued at about $400 million (€338 million).

Bringing Poloniex into the fold put Circle on track to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue, Fortune reported. "It is hard to use something like bitcoin if the volatility is so high", Circle's founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire stated. But with USD Coin, Circle says it aims to address some of the weaknesses of existing fiat-backed cryptocurrencies by "providing detailed financial and operational transparency, operating within the regulated framework of US money transmission laws", and working with banks and auditors. Several other companies have offered similar stablecoins-most notably Tether(USDT), which is associated with one of the largest exchanges, Bitfinex.

The way Circle sees it, a price-stable token is critical for enabling mainstream adoption of blockchain technology for payments and supporting financial contracts built on smart contract platforms, such as those for controlling token securities, loans and property.

Circle on Tuesday announced the pending availability of tokenized USA dollar coins, which is being supported by CENTRE and Bitmain. The new cryptocurrency, dubbed USD Coin, is a so-called "stablecoin" created to avoid the volatile price swings some cryptocurrencies have suffered from.

It's clear that Circle wants to build the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency industry. "Bitmain will help Centre introduce multiple fiat stablecoins in a variety of geo-currency zones", Circle says. He went on, "And so, you have a more open, global, inclusive economy that's made possible when this stuff gets delivered at scale." .

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy.