Circle Internet Financial has begun moving the reserves for its USDC stablecoin into a dedicated fund set up by BlackRock and registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company disclosed Thursday.
The Circle Reserve Fund – a government money market fund managed by BlackRock Advisors – has been in the works for months after BlackRock initially sought to register it in May. Circle will be its only eligible investor, and the stablecoin issuer has already started putting its reserves there, expecting to be “fully transitioned” by the end of March.
"This is a wrapper for the USDC reserve that brings benefits of that wrapper to the USDC and the ecosystem," said Circle Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Fox-Geen, in an interview with CoinDesk. All of the company's short-term Treasury assets will be phased into the fund, though the cash reserve -- about 20% of the total -- will still be held in partner banks, Fox-Geen said, because it allows for customers to more easily redeem USDC around the clock.
But that's a temporary measure, he explained, because the ultimate goal is for BlackRock to apply – in time – to get the fund into the Federal Reserve's reverse-repo program. Such funds are usually granted that access, so Fox-Geen said he hopes to see the cash portion of Circle's reserve eventually held at the Fed.
These efforts will "improve the risk profile and oversight and the disclosures around USDC reserve," he said.
The current circulation of $43.9 billion in USDC is backed by $44.1 billion in cash and short-term U.S. government bonds, according to weekly company disclosures. The portfolio of the new fund will also consist of U.S. Treasury bonds.
The assets will be held at the Bank of New York Mellon, according to Circle, where the fund will be subject to regulation under the Investment Company Act of 1940, which requires an independent board and daily reports on the portfolio.
Circle had previously begun a financial relationship with BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, when the firm invested in Circle’s funding round announced in April.
Stablecoin issuers have been eagerly awaiting legal guardrails in the U.S., but legislation that would set up the rules failed to reach the finish line this year. Lawmakers in the House Financial Services Committee expect to get back to their bill in the next session, though it could still be months away. Whatever the outcome, policymakers have generally agreed that stablecoins operating in the U.S. will need to be entirely backed by reserves such as U.S. Treasury bonds.
Fox-Geen said the company is heartened by the legislative efforts and the talk of eventually granting stablecoin issuers access to Fed accounts, but that they see their own approach as "a way of us doing it quicker."
UPDATE (Nov. 3, 2022, 23:11 UTC): Adds comments from Circle's chief financial officer
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