Bitcoin wallet startup Circle has been granted an electronic money license from a top UK financial regulator.
The approval from the UK Financial Conduct Authority – the first of its kind for a digital currency startup – allows Circle to establish a business relationship with London-based bank Barclays.
As a result, Circle is now able to store pound sterling on behalf of its customer base – similar to how it holds dollars for its customers in the US. Further, UK customers can now send money to and from their bank accounts.
"We support the exploration of positive uses of blockchain that can benefit consumers and society," a spokesperson for Barclays told Reuters.
Circle outlined the announcement in a new blog post, which also detailed the company’s thesis on creating a more social payments platform. For example, customers can include digital media like emojis when they transfer funds.
Co-founders Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire wrote:
The E-Money license extends past the UK, opening the doors to the rest of the European Union for Circle. The startup indicated that it has plans to add support for euros later this year as part of that planned expansion.
The move also earned praise from the government. In a statement, MP Harriett Baldwin, economic secretary to the UK Treasury, framed the move as part of a broader push for more FinTech firms to make their home in London.
“Britain’s FinTech industry is growing all the time and I am proud the government is playing its part,” she said. “Circle’s decision to launch in the UK and the firm’s new partnership with Barclays are major milestones.”
Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Circle.
Image via Shutterstock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.