Blockchain Startup Circle Raises $60 Million Amid China Expansion

Blockchain-based social payments app Circle has raised $60m in new funding as it expands to China.

AccessTimeIconJun 22, 2016 at 11:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:20 p.m. UTC

Blockchain-based payments app Circle has raised $60m in new funding from China-based investors, an announcement that coincides with its unveiling of a dedicated domestic subsidiary, Circle China.

The Series D funding was led by Beijing-based investment firm IDG Capital, with Breyer Capital, General Catalyst Partners, SilverLake co-founder Glenn Hutchins and former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano contributing funding. Circle also added new strategic partners in the region including Baidu, CICC Alpha, China EverBright Investments, Fenbushi Capital and CreditEase.

In interview, Circle co-founders Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire indicated that the Series D round will be used to fund its global operations, and that Circle China had been capitalized six months ago with a separate seed round.

However, Neville and Allaire used the announcement to emphasize how they believe Circle is now taking steps to build a truly global payments experience, one that will soon be able to allow users in the US, Europe and China to exchange value with the ease of a text message.

Allaire told CoinDesk:

“We don’t think of ourselves as focused on remittance or money transfer, we don’t think those categories will exist. For us, this capital is all going in the global company and that’s investment in consumer marketing, that’s the focus.”

Allaire sought to describe Circle as “not another closed network” like peer-to-peer payment platforms like Venmo or Transferwise, companies to which the startup’s business model market observers allege is now perhaps most similar.

In this way, Neville and Allaire assert that their core advantage is not that Circle will excel in providing money transfer services to consumers, but rather a more mature version of the company’s app will transcend boundaries, and thus, be more user friendly.

Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Circle.

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