US-BASED payments app Circle has raised US$60 million from Chinese investors and launched a company in China, as it seeks to expand in the world’s second-largest economy.
The latest funding comes from existing investor and Beijing-based tech investment fund IDG Capital Partners, as well as Chinese companies including Baidu, CICC Alpha and China Everbright Ltd, Circle’s co-founder Jeremy Allaire said.
“We’re not aiming to compete with the domestic market as that would be a suicide mission given the strength of local players like Alipay and WeChat, but we can connect Chinese consumers with the eurozone and dollar markets,” Allaire said by phone.
Circle’s China unit operates as a separate locally incorporated company and has not yet launched a product, pending a deal with a local banking partner and a legal license to operate, Allaire said.
Circle allows the sending of payments to countries where it hasn’t yet launched, with the payment transferred into Bitcoin, then settled within minutes via the blockchain network that validates Bitcoin transactions. At the other end, the Bitcoin is transferred back into the currency of that particular country.
Circle’s intention in China is to connect consumers there with this new global means of making small or “social” payments to peers in other countries.