CryptoGlobe recently caught up with Claire Wells, the head of legal & business affairs at Circle, a fintech startup that’s been influencing the cryptocurrency space since it was founded in 2013, that acquired popular cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex.
Claire Wells, a speaker at the CryptoCompare MJAC conference, addressed Circle’s 20 year plan in the cryptocurrency industry, and revealed the Poloniex acquisition was already a part of it. Per her words, the company believes in the tokenization of everything, and sees Poloniex as a marketplace for tokens that represent “anything of value.”
While Wells wasn’t able to share a lot of details regarding Circle’s upcoming projects, she mentioned the USDC stablecoin, and noted Circle Invest, a platform that allows investors to enter the cryptocurrency space for as little as $1, is also coming to Europe in the near future.
Interestingly, she detailed Circle is heavily betting on the tokenization of everything and on the development of Web 3.0. Below is the whole interview:
CG: Can you introduce our audience to Circle?
Claire Wells: Circle is a crypto finance company started in 2013 by Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire - with a vision to change how value is created and shared. We’ve raised $250 million to date from major investors such as Goldman Sachs, Bitmain, and Breyer Capital.
Circle products make it possible for people everywhere to create and share value in a way that is affordable, open and empowering. Leveraging the power of blockchain technology and crypto assets, Circle is reimagining financial services by making it possible to send, receive and invest in assets seamlessly around the world.
We have 4 products in market: Circle Pay, a social payment app that makes sending and receiving money as easy as texting or using email; whether across the table or across the ocean, payments are instant, secure, and without fees. It has millions of customers and is available in 29 countries with instant no-fee conversion between USD, GBP and EUR.
Circle Invest, an investment app that makes it easier than ever to invest in crypto, whether it is your very first time or your 100th. For as little as $1 customers are instantly able to invest in a broad mix of crypto assets through a simple, seamless, mobile experience. Recently launched in the U.S., Invest will be available in Europe in the coming months.
Poloniex, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges that makes it possible for customers to transact in different digital assets around the world. Used by thousands of investors, Poloniex is available in over a hundred countries worldwide.
Circle Trade, one of the largest market makers of digital assets in the world, Circle Trade offers over-the-counter (OTC) trading services and liquidity to institutional investors. It facilitates over $2 billion per month in crypto trading. Circle has launched USD coin (USDC), a digital asset fully backed 1 for 1 with US Dollars
CG: Some of Circle’s competitors have applied for banking licenses in the US. Is Circle going to follow suit?
Claire Wells: As business plans evolve we’ll continually evaluate and assess whether additional licenses are required to grow the business in a certain direction. If we really want to reinvent finance, it may mean we need other licenses but we’re not at that stage yet. We have fantastic banking partners and want to continue to work with them to develop our products.
CG: During your presentation at the CryptoCompare MJAC 2018 conference you revealed Circle’s OTC service was trading $2 billion a month. How has it been doing now?
Claire Wells: We are still in a bear market but out desk is doing well and average is still over $2 billion a month.
CG: In the company’s experience, has institutional investor interest been growing?
Claire Wells: Yes, as you will have seen there are a lot of headlines of incumbent traditional finance market players entering the crypto space.
CG: Do you believe the SEC will approve a Bitcoin ETF in the near future?
Claire Wells: I think we are going to see a lot of innovation where crypto and traditional financial interests meet not only in the type of products offered (both retail and institutional) but also infrastructure used to facilitate the financial sector.
CG: Does Circle want a Bitcoin ETF to happen?
Claire Wells: We are excited to see innovation in the space, generally.
CG: What do you see as the main obstacles to a Bitcoin ETF being approved?
Claire Wells: One of the obstacles generally for innovation in the space is regulatory uncertainty and [the] lack of a harmonized approach across different jurisdictions. That’s why we feel it’s incredibly important to work with regulators around the world to share learnings and developments in the space.
We have invested a lot of time and effort in our work with Global Digital Finance an industry group to drive acceleration and adoption of digital asset space. It is comprised of regulators and industry players. GDF is currently putting together a taxonomy and code of conduct for the digital asset space.
CG: What does the crypto space need to take one more step towards mainstream adoption?
Claire Wells: For mainstream adoption we need legal and regulatory clarity on the vast and diverse range of crypto tokens that are emerging and activities associated and a globally harmonized approach when it comes to regulation, given the global nature of the technology. We also need more mature and scalable public blockchains, fiat backed stablecoins and mature token marketplaces.
CG: Circle acquired Poloniex this year. Why Poloniex, an exchange with a huge backlog of issues to resolve and a bad reputation in the community?
Claire Wells: Poloniex is a leading token exchange platform. It achieved momentum and success with rocket ship velocity, a magnificent accomplishment, but one that also comes with whiplash. Circle as a global company with relevant skills and experience to help in these areas as an immediate priority, is working to address customer support and scale risk, compliance, and technical operations to bolster the existing product and platform.
CG: At the time, Circle claimed it was planning on growing Poloniex to more than a crypto-exchange. What changes can we expect in the future?
Claire Wells: In Poloniex we see huge potential - given Circle’s expertise we feel we can add huge value to existing platform. In the first instance efforts go towards continuing to build a consumer-focused product and scaling up the marketplace and localization.
In the long term we envision a robust multi-sided distributed marketplace that can host tokens which represent everything of value: physical goods, fundraising and equity, real estate, creative productions such as works of art, music and literature, service leases and time-based rentals, credit, futures, and more. So, watch this space.
CG: We’ve previously heard of a 20-year plan Circle has. Can you give us a few insights?
Claire Wells: At Circle we foresee the tokenization of everything - where every form of asset, value storage or important record becomes a crypto token, resulting in a highly liquid, global means of creating and sharing value. New global markets will emerge for assets that were previously illiquid or inaccessible and this revolution will also make it possible to trade on a global basis.
The crypto revolution represents a fundamental new layer of the internet’s infrastructure as public blockchains provide an open, global, immutable and incorruptible means of record-keeping, transaction processing and security. Circle is well positioned to offer key innovation regarding the “Third Internet wave” . [It’s] all about value exchange, governance and trust (as opposed to just the exchange of data/information). which forms the foundation for re-inventing fundamental ‘micro-economic’ units in the economy.
Over the next 20 years, we think there will be a global restructuring of the traditional financial sector and you will see the emergence of new fintechs, with completely different business models to the traditional financial market incumbents. We want to create products that make money work the same way sharing data and content on the internet does. Circle is just at the beginning of this journey but we are excited to be at the forefront of this crypto revolution.
CG: Where do you see Bitcoin and the crypto space in the next few years?
Claire Wells: I can’t predict for BTC specifically but with regards to the crypto space I think we will continue to see adoption and innovation in the space. We’re just at the start of this journey and Circle is happy to be at the forefront.
CG: Any bitcoin price target you’d like to share with us?
Claire Wells: I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you.
CG: Thank you for your time! Is there anything you would like to share with our audience?
Claire Wells: We’ve got lots of exciting developments coming up - stay up to date by checking out our Circle Blog