Circle, which uses blockchain technology to do zero-cost instant payments, is launching in France and Italy, and also announcing a group payments application.
In addition, the company is pushing to the fore its over-the-counter service, Circle Trading, which up until now has been “the best kept secret” in the crypto space.
Over the past four years, Circle has built a treasury and trading operation that spans crypto as well as fiat currency markets, providing lots of market liquidity for bitcoin, ether, XRP and other crypto assets. Last month (August 2017) Circle directly traded over $2bn in crypto assets.
To capitalise on this growth, Circle is actively taking on more and more trading counterparties; accredited investors, institutions and the like. It sees a virtuous circle of network effects: the crypto asset trading business bootstraps and supports the value of the underlying token-fueled protocol and network; this grows the reach of the products and services built on top of that network (such as Circle Pay) and so on.
Jeremy Allaire, CEO Circle, said: “We have a large scale OTC trading business providing liquidity to the market and that part of Circle, which has not been well known, is something that we are talking a lot more about now.”
Circle Trading’s OTC service handles trades that are minimum hundreds of thousands of dollars transactions, as opposed to retail exchange activity. The service is focused on core cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, ether, XRP, Ethereum Classic, Z-cash, Bitcoin Cash and litecoin.
“The market for digital assets is maturing and attracting broad interest as a mainstream category for investment and wealth management. To that end, you can expect us to combine our consumer product capability with our trading capability and create something that would be really attractive to the mainstream consumer. The growth has been really dramatic; we have one of the industry’s best kept secrets and so it’s a little bit of a coming out this week for it. We will have more to say about this soon,” said Allaire.
Circle Pay is also announcing a full scale move into France and Italy, while entering what it calls “early access” in 11 more countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, Sweden, and Switzerland.
“We are in the process of getting into every European country, but the major launches are France and Italy which are very large markets and where social payments is still very much a wide open territory.
As far as competing payments systems are concerned, Allaire said: “There certainly are players out there who have tried to build a business just focused on a domestic person to person payment, or just focused on an international or cross border person to person payment.
“We collapse those categories all together. We dont make a distinction between a domestic payment and a cross border payment; we don’t think that idea even matters anymore.”
Circle has been very active in China where it is working to connect the proliferation of paytech and wallets with Circle in the West. Taking some inspiration from services like WeChat Pay, Circle is introducing group payments and event-based payments.
Allaire said: “Say you’re throwing a party and you need everyone to chip in $5 for snakes or beer, you create an event. If you are familiar with group payment on WeChat, it’s a similar experience – and it’s a great experience.
“Or say you’re doing a fundraiser to money for some cause, or a trip, a five aside league. We expect use by broad range of clubs, societies leagues etc.”