Circle is a peer-to-peer payments technology company. It was founded by Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville in October 2013. Circle’s mobile payment platform, Circle Pay, allows users to hold, send, and receive traditional fiat currencies . In September 2015, Circle received the first BitLicense issued from the New York State Department of Financial Services. In April 2016, the British government approved the first virtual currency licensure to Circle. Circle is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.
Up until December 2016, Circle Pay also operated as a bitcoin wallet service to buy and sell bitcoins. 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".
The company has received over US$135 million in venture capital from 4 rounds of investments from 2013 to 2016, including US$50 million led by Goldman Sachs. In April 2015 The New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper wrote that the Goldman Sachs investment "should help solidify Bitcoin’s reputation as a technology that serious financial firms can work with." In June 2016, Circle raised US$60 million in Series D funding backed by new and existing partners.
Services and features
As of 2015 a Circle account can be funded in USD via "US-issued Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards", US bank accounts. As of 2016, European customers can also use Circle in EUR and GBP. The Circle conversion rate is not pegged to a specific exchange and may fluctuate around other bitcoin exchange rates but according to the Circle President "it’s simply never a revenue generator". Britain's Financial Conduct Authority granted Circle an electronic money license in April 2016, expanding the use of Circle's services to the United Kingdom and broadening Circle's relationship with UK bank Barclays. In June 2016, Circle announced it will begin expanding its services to China, where CEO Jeremy Allaire believes "there’s an opportunity for Chinese consumers that want to share value globally with friends in other parts of the world."
In December 2016 the Circle app stopped supporting the exchange of bitcoin but still allows money transfers. In October 2017, Circle launched a new service for group payments and cash transfers to US accounts.