Circle is approaching 2020 with a deep focus on stablecoins globally, dollars on public blockchains (USDC) specifically, and the powerful possibilities they unlock for people, businesses, and governments all around the world.
More than six years ago, we envisioned a world in which value can move freely and instantly over the internet — lowering the cost of commerce, connecting and including more people in the financial system, and sparking financial innovation as money itself becomes programmable. Global stablecoins and USDC, which we created and delivered through the CENTRE industry consortium, propel that mission forward in Circle’s next phase.
Our 2020 product roadmap sees this focus emerging first in the form of new global payment, custody, and wallet APIs for stablecoins. These APIs will be offered as services to businesses and developers everywhere who will be able to take advantage of the innovation and efficiency of stablecoins without the cost, complexity and risk of implementing this infrastructure themselves.
Stablecoin Platform Services
This focus builds on Circle’s core strength: The platform services infrastructure we built and iterated on over the last six years. These core services support USDC and unlock financial use cases worldwide.
Circle’s platform services quietly supported our Pay, Invest, Trade and USDC products and businesses by providing robust underlying custody, risk and identity management, compliance management, data science, card and banking gateways, and blockchain gateways. These platform services are analogous to the massive foundation of an iceberg not visible beneath the water while our products were the small visible crest above.
In 2020, we’re excited to surface this core of what we’ve built and expose these powerful services through new APIs. These APIs will accelerate the adoption of stablecoins and USDC, which has already become the fastest growing and largest full-reserve stablecoin in the world.
It’s an exciting time to be building, as so much of what we’d envisioned upon founding Circle is now finally becoming reality at scale. Stablecoins, third generation blockchains, and deep global policy engagement suggest to us that the mass market phase of crypto currency adoption is approaching over the next two to three years.
Business Streamlining and Organization Changes
Our sharpened 2020 focus is supported by several recent changes in Circle’s business and organization. Focusing effectively on stablecoin platforms means we must reduce complexity, tighten our product portfolio, and organize our teams to execute with greater agility.
This streamlining takes the form of several specific decisions outlined below which have improved Circle’s ability to execute this next phase:
We’re announcing today that we have sold the Circle Trade OTC business to Kraken. We have known and admired Jesse and his team at Kraken for many years, and we have every confidence and expectation that Circle Trade customers and partners will continue to find best-in-class OTC liquidity service and responsiveness through Kraken going forward. Circle Trade represents an enormous success for the industry as well as for Circle, and we’re excited to see Kraken grow it further.
As has been widely reported, we also successfully sold and spun out our exchange business, Poloniex, into a standalone company backed by an Asian investment group. Although published reports continue to misrepresent both the original acquisition and the context of the spin out, it is true that Poloniex changed Circle significantly, and in order to gain focus on our stablecoin platform mission as well as practical US regulatory reality, we determined that we should exit the exchange business and enable it to prosper independently under new ownership.
Over the course of 2019, we also wound down the standalone Circle Pay application. Although we shuttered the mobile application, the underlying platform technologies, battled-tested with millions of users and billions of dollars in transactions, will be part of our new stablecoin platform services. This will enable third party applications to take advantage of the underlying platform services that powered Pay and other Circle applications.
SeedInvest, the top US equity crowdfunding platform and a registered Broker-Dealer and Alternative Trading System which we acquired in 2018, will continue to operate as an independent affiliate of Circle.
Just as our business gained focus, reduced complexity, and simplified — so has the organization and our teams. As part of the successful Poloniex spin out, more than 80 Circle employees transitioned to the new standalone company.
We as Circle’s two founders have also streamlined: I (Sean) determined that these successful business changes make the timing appropriate to exit my co-CEO management position, though I will remain connected to the company as an independent director on the Circle Board of Directors. I also expect to propel the mission forward through CENTRE and other new complementary paths that traverse important challenges in infrastructure, regulatory policy, economics, and product development. This will be my final blog post co-authored with Jeremy.
At the executive level, our Chief Financial Officer Naeem Ishaq and Chief Legal Officer Gus Coldebella are also transitioning from the company into new adventures befitting their expertise. Gus will continue to advise the company on a number of important government relations issues. We are deeply grateful for their contributions.
These and other related organizational changes throughout the company help align operations and talent to match our stablecoin platform services focus and 2020 product roadmap.
Ultimately the crypto industry’s technical, regulatory, and product problems are fundamentally people problems, and it takes great people coming together to solve them. In 2020, we will continue to focus on building and growing our talented teams of people to execute on Circle’s next phase. We welcome outreach from people who share a belief in our mission of building an open global financial system.
The Vision for 2020
Our vision and mission remain unchanged since we founded Circle in the summer of 2013. We have, however, course-corrected many times as we execute on that mission to achieve the vision. We have learned many important lessons, and they inform where we are now and our plan for traversing the path ahead.
The global interest in stablecoins and digital currency backed by central bank money, the introduction of third generation public blockchains, and the accelerated global policy interest in crypto all provide an exciting backdrop for our new platform services in 2020. We are excited to get these technologies into the hands of creative developers and businesses everywhere.
Many of us in this nascent crypto ecosystem set out years ago on a shared mission to create an improved, inclusive, open financial system for the world. We’ve made a small yet undeniable impact so far, but we’re far from done. We could not be more proud to engage with you in the challenges and opportunities in global policy, economics, and technology that we all boldly face together in the new decade ahead.
Sean & Jeremy