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Circle

Circle is a financial technology company that provides payment and treasury infrastructure for Internet businesses. It is the creator of , a pegged to the US dollar and used for global payments. It was founded in 2013 by and . [1][2][3]

History

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Circle began as a peer-to-peer payments technology company in October 2013. It is best known for managing the USD-pegged which was launched in September 2018. [4]

"If you could take what we think of as money, make it digital and available on the internet, then that would dramatically change the way we use money and open up opportunity around the world. That’s the idea behind Circle.” - , Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman. [4]

On September 22, 2015, Circle received the first BitLicense issued from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). NYDFS BitLicense is a comprehensive regulatory framework for firms dealing in virtual currency such as Bitcoin. [5]

In April 2016, the British government approved the first virtual currency licensure to Circle. [6]

In February 2018, Circle purchased the US-based exchange . The exchange spun out from Circle in October 2019 to form a new exchange not supporting customers in the U.S. [11][12]

In September 2018, Circle and  co-founded a consortium called CENTRE, which launched the digital USDC pegged to the dollar. CENTRE was intended to serve as a platform for users to make deposits from traditional bank accounts and convert into tokens. In August 2023, and Circle closed the Centre Consortium, giving Circle sole governance of . [9]

In June 2019, Circle announced the discontinuation of its mobile payment app, Circle Pay. Circle Pay allowed users to hold, send, and receive traditional . It also operated as a  wallet service to buy and sell Bitcoins. The company said the five-year-old product saw demand, but that have proven to be a better focus. It has since ceased to provide such service, claiming the company "is now more than ever not a consumer bitcoin exchange, and will continue to focus resources on global social payments and future next-generation blockchain technology" [7][8]

In September 2019, Circle announced a pause on its research product arm, 'Circle Research'. [15]

In February 2020, Circle sold its digital asset investment app 'Circle Invest' to Voyager Digital Canada, the operator of digital asset broker Voyager. [10]

In July 2021, Circle announced a plan to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company called Concord Acquisition Corp in a $4.5 billion deal that would make Circle a public company. However, in December 2022 both companies announced the mutual termination of their proposed business combination. [13]

In June 2022, Circle announced it had signed agreements to acquire CYBAVO, a crypto technology company dealing in crypto security, custody, operations, and infrastructure platform services founded in 2018. [14]

In September 2022, Circle hosted the event Converge22, a four-day gathering for change makers, looking to build what’s next in . It was held from September 27-30, 2022, at San Francisco’s Moscone Center 23. The event featured five main stage events, more than 50 expert-led breakout sessions, networking opportunities, start-up pitches, special exhibits, etc. The speakers included Jeremy Allaire, Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman, Circle; Kim Hamilton Duffy, Director of Identity and Standards, Centre Consortium; Brian Brooks, CEO, Bitfury Group; Anthony Scaramucci, Founder & Managing Partner, SkyBridge, Serena Williams, etc. [16][17]

On March 10, 2023, USDC Stablecoin announced that $3.3 billion of its $40 billion Coin reserves were held at Silicon Valley Bank when it collapsed. All of the cash held as reserve had since been parked with The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. In August 2023, the company announced it had a $1 billion cash cushion. [18][19]

On March 21, 2023, Circle company announced that it had chosen Paris to develop its European commercial activities. [20]

In 2023, CEO began lobbying the U.S. Congress to provide clear rules for [22]. In late, 2023,  took an equity stake in the company which also announced that  would be available on six additional [21]

In September 2023, Circle relaunched Circle Research to accelerate and amplify technical innovation within , blockchain, and Web3 through open-source research. [23]

In December 2023, Circle received a conditional registration as a Digital Asset Service Provider from France’s financial regulator, subject to certain restrictions. To operate in France, the company must still receive approval as a Payment Services Provider. “This condition will be satisfied with the obtainment of an Electronic Money Institution license, for which Circle has applied,” Circle wrote in a blog post. [33]

Funding

In April 2015, Circle completed a funding round of $50 million with help from banking firm Goldman Sachs and venture group IDG Capital Partners. In May 2016, Circle raised $60 million in Series D funding from a syndicate of Chinese strategic investors, including Baidu, CICC Alpha, China Everbright, Wanxiang, and CreditEase. The funding was aimed at fueling the growth of Circle’s global business as a whole, and it coincided with the company’s unveiling of a dedicated domestic subsidiary, Circle China. [29][30]

In May 2018, Circle raised $110 million in a Series E funding to create the . Bitmain Technologies, a Chinese virtual coin mining giant, led the round. The funding round valued the company at $3 billion. Existing investors such as IDG Capital, Breyer Capital, General Catalyst, Accel, Digital Currency Group, and Pantera also invested more money. Blockchain Capital and Tusk Ventures invested in Circle for the first time. [31]

In April 2022, Circle announced that it had agreed to a $400M funding round with investments from BlackRock, Inc., Fidelity Management and Research, Marshall Wace LLP, and Fin Capital. [32]

Products

USDC

(USDC) is an -based . It is pegged 1:1 to the value of USD and it was launched in 2018. USDC is supported on several including , , , and . [24]

is regulated and fully reserved, with reserves transparently held at regulated financial institutions with published monthly attestations. Circle has developed the technology to enable USDC to run on 15 public networks, with open-source and private market innovation driving progress in dollar digital currency models. [24]

EURC

EURC is a euro-backed that is accessible globally on , , , and . Similar to USDC, EURC is issued by Circle under a full-reserve model.
Designed for stability, EURC is 100% backed by euro held in euro-denominated bank accounts so that it is always redeemable 1:1 for euro. [25]

EURC can be used by businesses to accept payment, developers to integrate into apps, exchanges to convert local fiat currency to and from EURC, and institutional traders. [25]

Circle Mint

Circle Mint provides a way to access and redeem USDC and EURC. It can be used to manage and distribute funds to crypto wallets globally. It allows users to avoid transaction fees when USDC OR EURC. Circle Mint is for enterprise businesses and wholesale distributors minting large volumes of USDC. It is typically used by exchanges, institutional traders, wallet providers, banks, and consumer app companies. [26]

Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol (CCTP)

Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol (CCTP) is a permissionless on-chain utility that facilitates USDC transfers between blockchains via native burning and minting. [27]

CCTP solves the issues of liquidity fragmentation and poor user experiences caused by unofficial, bridged versions of USDC in the ecosystem. Apps built on CCTP can teleport native USDC from one chain to another, providing users with a way to transact in a multi-chain. Developers can leverage CCTP to embed in an app, wallet, or bridge, and enable users to move any amount of USDC to a supported ecosystem. [27]

Smart Contract Platform

Circle provides a platform where users can integrate into an app in a short time, and deploy. It provides one interface to manage more than 1 smart contract and deliver on-chain functionality. By using this platform, users can create new experiences with , protocols, USDC, and more. [28]

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