Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Goldman Sachs-backed payment company Circle made the headlines when it made a significant entry into the crypto scene by acquiring US exchange Poloniex at the end of February. Since then the company has been valued at $3 billion and its ambitions have grown in similar stature.

Circle Internet Financial says it will now build what many have promised but not delivered: the ‘internet of value’. This bold statement was announced yesterday on the company blog along with plans that it is introducing a crypto-currency which is based on the US dollar. In the crypto world, these are known as “stablecoins” as they are backed by actual central bank currency reserves – known as fiat currencies – and this will supposedly overcome the volatility and wild fluctuations that have hampered the digital asset industry.

The fintech startup said via its blog that the new tokenized coin, USDC (USD Coin), would be pegged to the dollar and that, currently, a price-stable medium of exchange and store of value is missing. “Transacting in currencies which fluctuate with extreme volatility creates complexity and fragile settlement contracts, especially when compared to transacting in ‘tokenized fiat money’ or fiat-pegged crypto assets.”

The framework for the new virtual currency is being developed by an organization known as CENTRE, which will provide independent oversight of Circle’s offering. The firm claims that existing fiat-backed solutions have lacked “financial and operational transparency” and also states that they have operated in “unregulated jurisdictions with unknown banking and audit partners”, and have been built as closed-loop ecosystems and closed proprietary technologies. The clear reference here is to USDT, or Tether, another US-backed stablecoin that says it has a market capitalization of $2.2 billion but has been continually challenged to prove the existence of its claimed reserves.

Circle and CENTRE say they are addressing these issues by providing financial transparency and operating within the US regulatory framework. The project also says it will establish mainstream banking partners and auditors. The USDC coins will be issued as ERC20 tokens based on the Ethereum network.

The company has also announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Beijing-based Bitcoin hardware provider, Bitmain.

“Bitmain is becoming a key supporter of CENTRE and USDC, and in conjunction with this new partnership, Bitmain is leading a $110-million strategic investment in Circle.”

Bitmain will now help introduce multiple fiat-backed stablecoins so the platform brings “financial inter-operability” across the world.

Circle CEO and co-founder Jeremy Allaire said that despite the company celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, this news means he feels that now things are really just getting started.

“The development of USDC, the evolution of CENTRE, and this new strategic financing further grow our strength as we push toward our lofty goals… We’re thrilled for what’s to come.”

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