Coinbase and Circle jointly announced today the launch of Circle’s ERC-20 stablecoin, the USD//Coin or USDC, on Coinbase. This is first stablecoin to be listed on the exchange, which is the U.S.’s largest.
Simultaneously, the companies also announced the launch of a new co-founded venture, the CENTRE Consortium, which will aim to “[establish] a standard for fiat on the internet and [provide] a governance framework and network for the global, mainstream adoption of fiat stablecoins”, according to Circle’s official blog post.
Effective today, all U.S. customers (except those in New York state), as well as non-U.S. users (in select regions), can buy, sell, and send USDC on the Coinbase.com platform, via the Coinbase mobile apps, or via the Coinbase Wallet.
Coinbase has high hopes for the move, with their chief technology officer (CTO) Balaji Srinivasan comparing stablecoins in general to the iPhone’s launch in 2007, saying they “could be to the financial system what the iPhone was to mobile, namely an innovation that makes the entire system more programmable, and hence more useful.”
And Emilie Choi, Coinbase VP of corporate and business development, exclaimed "this is just the tip of the iceberg [...] the reality is, is that we have no idea how stablecoins are going to be used in the next five-ten years.”
The intent of the consortium is to effect the partners’ “common vision of an open global financial system built on crypto rails and blockchain infrastructure,” according to Circle founders Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville. The promise of stablecoins is to fluidly integrate the existing financial world into the cryptoasset industry. Or as Allaire and Neville put it, they will allow "interoperable global payments for everyone on the planet and [...] unlock the incredible power of smart contracts for tokenizing a wide range of assets and economic arrangements."
CENTRE has already developed the groundwork for a suite of open source protocols for building out the stablecoin ecosystem, and invites leaders in the cryptoasset industry to contribute to further construction of those standards. The consortium will “provide the support, governance and ongoing R&D” to this end.
Circle has become a huge player in the young cryptoasset industry, with backing from Goldman Sachs, Bitmain, Baidu, and others. At present it is valued at $3 billion. Circle bought the U.S.-based Poloniex cryptoasset exchange earlier this year.
The USDC launch has been replicated elsewhere recently, as have a rash of stablecoin listings in general, on the OKEx and Huobi exchanges. These listings add variety to an ecosystem once mostly dominated by Tether (USDT), which has for some time been a topic of controversy in the cryptoasset community. As CryptoGlobe has covered at some length, Tether has never undergone a legal audit.
Circle began issuing USDC tokens a few weeks ago, making Coinbase and Circle joint issuers of the stablecoin. Circle seems well regarded by U.S. financial authorities, after the New York Office of the Attorney General recently gave it high marks for its restrictions on virtual proxy networks, transparency regarding criteria for listing assets, low percentage of proprietary trading, and on its retention of external audit services.