Leading a US$50 million investment round, Goldman Sachs has shown that it finds Boston-based Circle Internet Financial, Inc.'s global vision promising. Managing Director Tom Jessop — who heads the firm’s Principal Strategic Investments Group to focus on strategic investments within the financial technology (FinTech) industry — stated:
“We think that Circle’s product vision and exceptional management team present a compelling opportunity in the digital payments space.”
To support its vision of expansion, Circle has introduced a feature that allows its users to “hold, send, and receive US dollars as well as bitcoin — instantly, securely and with no fees.” In an attempt to rid users from the risk of price volatility, the feature allows them to pay bitcoin merchants without holding any bitcoins. The users can now convert bitcoins to US dollars that are FDIC insured, and use them to pay merchants.
The new feature is very similar to that of OKLink, a new wallet product of the largest bitcoin exchange in China, OKCoin. Currently a beta version, the new platform of the Chinese bitcoin exchange allows its users to spend Chinese yuan, U.S. Dollars and bitcoins to pay bitcoin merchants by converting the fiat currencies to bitcoin at point of sale.
Circle explained their similar feature, saying:
“This way, customers can choose to view Bitcoin not as a new currency to replace the dollar, but as an Internet payment network that enables secure, instant, global and nearly free payments.”
OKCoin described OKLink, in an official statement released on April 22, as “the first Superwallet utilizing the Bitcoin protocol” and they believe that “it will have a positive impact on today’s financial landscape.”
Chinese mobile payments service Alipay has been overtaking global payment processing platforms like Paypal. According to a report from Business Insider, Alipay processed nearly US$150 billion in mobile transactions in 2013.
Allaire described China as “an extremely attractive market in terms of consumer behavior and in terms of scale,” highlighting the Chinese government’s desire to develop an economy that is led by consumers who spend their money globally.
Jeremy Allaire, the founder of Circle, Inc., explained in the company’s official blog that the strategic investment of the aforementioned investors will help Circle to “continue building a new kind of global consumer finance company.”
In accordance with the funding round, Circle plans to bring its services and products to China, with the help of China-based IDG Capital Partners. Circle will add Chinese yuan to the platform in order to allow users to “transact both locally and across the globe more freely and more securely than has ever before been possible.”
Circle, a bitcoin-focused consumer finance company that raised US$26 million in its previous rounds, completed the new funding round that was co-led by Goldman Sachs and IDG Capital Partners, who are joined by their previous investors, including Breyer Capital, General Catalyst Partners, Accel Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Fenway Summer, Digital Currency Group, Pantera Capital and strategic individuals.
Although the funding round is the first bitcoin-related strategic investment from Goldman Sachs, the multinational firm has shown hints of interests for bitcoin since late 2013, after one director, M. Michele Burns, joined Circle’s board.
With its investment in Circle, Goldman Sachs shows that it sees a promising future in the company, and in the digital currency space overall, and that it feels confident in “transforming global markets through technical innovation.”
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