Circle, a Bitcoin services company, and Barclays
In April, Circle and Barclays announced that they are partnering in the United Kingdom to allow British customers to easily send funds and buy and sell Bitcoin through Circle's app. Circle managed to obtain an electronic money license from the British government's Financial Conduct Authority, the first ever granted to a virtual currency company. The Authority placed Circle in the UK's Innovation Hub, a program meant to encourage financial sector experimentation. The partnership between Circle and Barclays marks the first time that a big global financial institution has teamed up with a Bitcoin services company to provide services. According to the New York Times's "Bitcoin Start-Up Gets an Electronic Money License in Britain," the British economic secretary to the treasury stated that the license decision proves London's desire "to cement its status as the world's fintech capital." It is clear that the UK wants to be competitive with New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and emerging markets in financial technology.
Founded in 2013 in Boston, Circle provides a straightforward service. Its app lets American and British users send and receive money in dollars, pounds, and Bitcoin quickly, even across national borders. Users can choose to hold Bitcoin or fiat currency to avoid volatility and can convert anytime. According to the company, dollar balances are insured by the FDIC and third-party external insurance. Users also can buy and sell Bitcoin from a debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. There are no fees to buy and sell, but the price of Bitcoin on Circle has a slight premium. Now, users can even transfer money between dollars and pounds instantly and without fees. Soon, Circle hopes to add the euro onto its list of accessible currencies. Circle's goal is to become the premier money transfer fintech provider, and its partnership with Barclays is a big step forward.
Bitcoin and its blockchain technology are helping to change the world from cash to e-commerce. Although the volatility of the cryptocurrency can be a deterrent to consumers who wish to spend instead of speculate, Bitcoin services companies that allow conversion and expenditure offer stability and value. Not only are consumers and Bitcoin services companies driving demand for faster, more secure, and simpler transactions, but also corporate and state institutions are studying the uses and benefits of Bitcoin technology to make capital more modern and efficient.
The author is a Circle Campus Brand Ambassador but does not hold any positions in BTC or any of the stocks above.