Circle, a Bitcoin exchange and services startup is granted an electronic money license by the British government through its foremost financial regulator. The milestone marks the first time that Britain has bestowed a license upon a bitcoin company.
The license was granted by Britain’s primary financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The move further Britain’s public and determined stance to stand out as the go-to hub for financial technology.
Circle facilitates currency transfers by converting them to bitcoin first, with all transactions verified and recorded on the bitcoin blockchain.
As a financial service, Circle allows users to send and receive payments in USD as well as bitcoin. The service does so, by converting the currency into and out of bitcoin, automatically.
Users who prefer to transact in USD alone, without wanting to venture into using Bitcoin will also be able to do so, with Circle automatically converting the currency to and back from Bitcoin.
Circle was originally a part of the British Government’s Innovation Hub, an initiative undertaken by the government to encourage Fintech research and development. This enabled the Boston-based company to fast-track its way through the process of obtaining the license, making it the first digital currency company in the world to be granted an E-Money license.
Following the official license, Circle has also partnered with leading British bank Barclays. The partnership is, quite possibly, another milestone wherein a leading global bank has directly partnered in an endeavor with a bitcoin company.
With the British license, Circle customers in the United Kingdom will be able to transfer money between dollars and the British sterling. As reported by the New York Times, Circle users will also be able to use transfer money between the two currencies and euros as well, with the E-Money license being valid across the European Union.
Speaking to the publication, Jeremy Allaire, Circle co-founder said:
For the first time, any consumer in the U.S and the U.K will be able to beam sterling and dollars back and forth, instantly for free.
That’s just never been possible.
In other quotes attributed to the Financial Times, Allaire revealed that Circle will add euros to its list of supported currencies in the “coming months”. Furthermore, Asian currencies will also be added, in the future.
In a blog post on its website, an excerpt from Circle read:
Circle allows UK and US consumers to transmit sterling and dollars over the blockchain, which means that Circle customers can send and receive value through thousands of other digital wallets and online money services, instantly and without fees.
Notably, Circle is also eliminating transaction and withdrawal limits for customers in all countries where it is available (Circle claims that’s over 150 countries).
Not Wedded to the Bitcoin Blockchain
Although Circle is using the bitcoin blockchain to record all transactions enabled by its users, the well-funded startup isn’t loyal to it. At a time when banks, tech firms and plenty of others are talking up the potential for the Ethereum blockchain — one enabled with smart-contracts – Allaire hinted that Circle may look to other blockchains in the future.
Speaking to the NYT, the co-founder stated:
We are not wedded to one blockchain as the right one.
The revelation came despite Allaire stating that Ethereum wasn’t ready for global usage like Bitcoin is, not yet anyway. The company blog added:
We’re in the early stages of blockchain technology. Bitcoin, ethereum, private chains and new distributed ledger protocols will evolve, and a free and open experience will money will emerge.
Public Blockchain > Private Blockchain
These are times where global banks, securities exchanges and financial institutions and even central banks are bullishly investing and exploring blockchain-based solutions for current services and infrastructure, with one fundamental difference to the bitcoin blockchain. Nearly every single news-worthy blockchain endeavor is looking into private distributed ledgers, rather than the public blockchain used by the cryptocurrency.
With these endeavors in mind, Circle encouraged the evolution and development of public blockchains, over private ledgers.
In its blog, Circle stated:
We’d be thrilled if everyone in the world enjoyed Circle, but people benefit most if Circle is part of an open global network of value exchange with thousands of other software providers, online services, and financial institutions who are connecting to and innovating on public blockchains.
Notably, Circle was also the first Bitcoin company to receive New York State’s first ever BitLicense in November 2015, authorizing the startup to offer digital currency services in New York.
While Barclays figures as Circle’s first big banking partner, the bitcoin startup has a big bank backing it up as an investor. In April 2015, Goldman Sachs was revealed as the lead investor in Circle’s funding round, one which saw the Bitcoin company raise $50 million.
Featured image from Circle.