Circle, a company that uses blockchain technology to enable instant peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, has raised $60 million from multiple investors, including Chinese venture capital firm IDG Capital Partners and Chinese Internet giant Baidu.
The company also announced that it had created Circle China, a company based in Beijing, ahead of a planned future launch in the world’s most populous nation.
Furthermore, Circle said it would soon allow transfers in Euros for customers in Spain as part of a rollout across Europe in the next month.
Circle converts currency into bitcoins for transfer and then converts the amount back to fiat currency once the transfer is complete. Because settlement of Bitcoin transactions depends on the distributed computing power of the network’s users rather than a central authority, the transaction essentially becomes free for both parties.
Circle is trying to establish itself in the Chinese market by targeting Chinese investment. The company needs investment to expand, and those expansion plans include China. Circle China should let the company pick the brains of Chinese investors with regard to the market and business relationships.
But Circle is not specifically targeting the domestic Chinese money transfer market, said CEO Jeremy Allaire, according to Forbes. And this is a wise move given that tech giants Alipay and Tencent overwhelmingly dominate this space. Circle will instead focus on the Chinese international P2P payments market, as China sent $2.7 billion to people in other nations in 2015.
Blockchain technology, which is best known for powering Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is gaining steam among finance firms because of its potential to streamline processes and increase efficiency. The technology could cut costs by up to $20 billion annually by 2022, according to Santander.
That’s because blockchain, which operates as a distributed ledger, has the ability to allow multiple parties to transfer and store sensitive information in a space that’s secure, permanent, anonymous, and easily accessible. That could simplify paper-heavy, expensive, or logistically complicated financial systems, like remittances and cross-border transfer, shareholder management and ownership exchange, and securities trading, to name a few. And outside of finance, governments and the music industry are investigating the technology’s potential to simplify record-keeping.
As a result, venture capital firms and financial institutions alike are pouring investment into finding, developing, and testing blockchain use cases. Over 50 major financial institutions are involved with collaborative blockchain startups, have begun researching the technology in-house, or have helped fund startups with products rooted in blockchain.
Jaime Toplin, research associate for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on blockchain technology that explains how blockchain works, why it has the potential to provide a watershed moment for the financial industry, and the different ways it could be put into practice in the coming years.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Spending on capital markets applications of blockchain is expected to grow at a 52% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2019, according to Aite Group, to reach $400 million that year.
- Banks and major financial institutions are working both collaboratively and independently to develop blockchain tech. Over 50 major financial institutions are involved with collaborative blockchain startups, like R3 CEV or Chain. And many are investing in the technology on their own as well.
- Putting blockchain to use for real-world transactions is likely not that far off. If working groups’ tests are successful, firms could be using it to transact real value as early as the end of this year and we could see widespread industry application within the next few years.
In full, the report:
- Examines the funding increases that are pouring into blockchain
- Assesses why blockchain is becoming so popular and what factors are driving up increased research and development
- Explains in full how blockchain technology work and what assets make it valuable and vulnerable
- Identifies pain points in the financial industry and profiles how various firms are using blockchain to solve them
- Demonstrates the challenges to mainstream adoption and their potential solutions