Cryptocurrency startup Circle has raised a $110 million funding round, which values the company near $3 billion. Cryptocurrency mining company Bitmain is leading the round.
Existing investors IDG Capital, Breyer Capital, General Catalyst, Accel, Digital Currency Group and Pantera are investing more money. Blockchain Capital and Tusk Ventures are investing in Circle for the first time. Goldman Sachs also invested in the company in a previous round.
It’s hard to describe Circle in a few words because the company has been active on all fronts. For a really long time, the company pitched itself as a social payment company, a Venmo and Square Cash competitor. But Circle is more focused than ever on cryptocurrencies.
The company has been operating one of the largest over-the-counter trading desks for big cryptocurrency investors and exchanges. Circle Trade manages more than $2 billion a month in transactions and is able to fulfill large orders and provide liquidity.
More recently, the company launched Circle Invest, a really simple mobile app for the U.S. market. It lets you buy and sell Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Zcash and Monero in just a few taps. It’s a good way to get started with cryptocurrencies without learning about exchanges and order types. It could become a good Coinbase competitor for small cryptocurrency investors.
And Circle also acquired Poloniex, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S.
But the most interesting projects right now are probably CENTRE and a new tokenized USD coin. There are so many different cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, exchanges and wallets that it has become hard to make everything work together. Cryptocurrencies still suffer from price volatility, so bitcoin can’t be the common denominator.
That’s why Circle is creating a token that is pegged to the U.S. dollar. The USD Coin is based on an open source framework developed by CENTRE and everything should be audited regularly.
CENTRE is a Circle initiative to create a common framework to connect all electronic wallets. This protocol could let you send money to an Alipay user with your Square Cash balance.
It’s clear that Circle wants to build the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency industry. The company will need to convince multiple industry players to work with Circle, but it could help the cryptocurrency ecosystem as a whole.