Crypto Regulation Heat & Circle Platform Launch

This week on the Money Movement, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire will explore some of the big themes and memes of the week that have emerged around USDC and Circle, including reactions to reactions to The STABLE Act and other regulatory rumors circulating after the G7 Summit, more CBDC saber-rattling from central bankers, USDC crosses the 3 Billion in circulation milestone, and some major announcements coming from Circle, including a discussion with Circle’s Head of Growth, Rachel Mayer, and Head of Product, Joao Reginatto.

In his analysis on regulatory and policy hub-bubs, and the growth milestone for USDC, Jeremy will attempt to answer the top Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) he gets on these matters.

Listen now to learn more about the current state of crypto regulation and the launch of Circle's new platform!

Jeremy Allaire: Hello, I'm Jeremy Allaire. This is The Money Movement, a show where we explore the issues and ideas in this brave new world of digital currency and blockchains. It was another really busy week in crypto and stable coin land. USDC crossed over three billion in circulation. Circle launched a major upgrade to our suite of payments and treasury infrastructure for the internet. There's been a lot of regulatory rumblings, if not regulatory heat, we're feeling it.

We may be about to see a regulatory sledgehammer brought down on crypto in the United States by departing Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. I want to dive into this. I want to break down what's going on and share some perspective on this. I'm going to start with some really basic stuff here. The first is just when we look at crypto and we look at blockchains, we're looking at the core, a very, very fundamental innovation, an innovation that has, I believe, far-reaching consequences, much more far-reaching than even the web itself.

This innovation of public blockchains represents fundamentally a new infrastructure layer for the internet. It's an infrastructure layer that allows for counterparties around the world to have the incontrovertible set of record-keeping, a way to transaction process, or to conduct transactions and a way to deploy code. These blockchains are a new computing layer for the internet designed to accommodate economic activity. It's their public open permissionless nature like the internet itself, which makes them so transformative.

The uses of this technology obviously start with things like the new forms of commodity money that underlie and secure these decentralized networks like Bitcoin and Ether, but the uses expand far, far beyond into really-- Every category of recordkeeping industry in the world, every dimension of finance but increasingly with the improvements we're seeing in blockchain technology offer the potential to decentralize fundamental services like communications applications, social media applications.

So many of the things that regulators are frankly looking to break up Facebook around, we can rebuild in a decentralized architecture on this infrastructure. Now, a lot of the attention on this show and in the industry is around the role of crypto and stablecoins and the like in this world of value exchange. A fundamental premise here is that on these public networks, on these permissionless networks, it's becoming possible to exchange value instantly, globally, the speed of the internet with much higher levels of security, privacy, and resiliency versus fraud than our existing financial system can present.

On top of that underlying commoditization of value exchange is this new layer, this layer of programmability, the ability to create contracts, the ability to create financial protocols that operate entirely on these public networks. We're seeing that in the growth of borrowing and lending markets on the internet, decentralized finance. We're seeing many of the building block primitives of how capital works in the world being built on this infrastructure.

This creates an opportunity ultimately for billions of people to access financial services in ways that haven't been possible before, so a major innovation. Now, also at the core of this infrastructure is the role that this technology can play in providing greater degrees of security, greater degrees of privacy than had been made possible with the existing financial system.

Underlying crypto is this concept of a digital asset that is in fact, a bare asset, and that individuals have the ability to hold these bare assets independent of the state, non-sovereign stores of value, non-sovereign money, this underlies the tremendous interest in Bitcoin. Even from I think now at this point, pretty much any major macro investor has a strong thesis that the dollar and other fiat currencies have challenges and that from a risk management perspective, holding these crypto bear assets as a hedge against what's taking place in the world economy is not only rational but potentially, very desirable.

There's this underlying component that exists here as well. On the whole, this represents public chains, these digital assets, the ability to have these public global protocols, in my view is just an enormous human innovation that ultimately allows for radically greater financial inclusion, greater economic integration of entities, businesses, and nation-states even, breakthroughs in commerce and trade, business models.

Frankly, the potential to return trillions of dollars in value that is captured by intermediary banks and other ecosystem participants in the existing financial system to return that capital into productive use for society. Now, we all know from the last 20 or 30 years that the open internet makes it easier for bad actors to operate. We know this, it's everywhere. Cyberattacks, data breaches, hackers, terrorists posting videos online, recruiting, and operating using encrypted messaging apps, all of this is apparent, and we know this.

At the same time as a society, we are not willing to sacrifice the open internet on that basis alone. We are not willing to provide complete government control and boundaries on the internet just on the basis of bad actors operating. In fact, the really key thing is that law enforcement, national security apparatus, governments have adapted themselves and have built better and better tools.

Now, in this space, in this world of this new open internet of finance, we know the same thing exists, we know that bad actors are operating. There's lots of data about this. There's lots of firms that analyze this. Of course, the firms that are intermediaries between the existing financial system and crypto and blockchain constantly work with law enforcement, constantly work to thwart that, that is part of our obligation. We also need to build new tools. We need to build new tools for an open internet of money.

Collectively as an industry, it's incumbent on us to build better and better tools that meet those needs but at the same time, preserving and protecting the innovation of public internet infrastructure and public blockchain infrastructure in terms of finance. I think what we're seeing now is that this concern over criminal abuse is significant. This is where the regulatory hammer is being focused. The approach, which is I believe a short-sighted simplistic approach based on what we're hearing, it's likely to do enormous damage to a highly innovative sector.

Now, for those that aren't familiar with this, all of this has gradually bubbled up to the global level over the past years. The international body that is responsible for the rules around anti-money laundering on a global basis, the Financial Action Task Force in 2019 put in place new rules around firms in the digital currency ecosystem needing to have controls in place to be able to collect appropriate information on customers, share that information appropriately, and that's led to a great deal of industry work that's going to roll out over the course of 2021, the so-called travel rule.

These issues have become even more exacerbated and greater interest on these with the growth in Bitcoin, with the growth in stablecoins like USDC and with the proposed launch of DM, AKA Libra, and that's led to finance ministers from the G7 finance ministers and other key stakeholders at the G20 to really look at, is there more that they want to do to regulate this? The question people naturally ask is, "Why now?" Why now is because crypto is going mainstream. Bitcoin is going mainstream. Major technology firms are launching digital currency initiatives. We're seeing this industry grow up very fast. We're seeing stable coins like USDC on the verge of being mainstream components of what the payment system can be.

When we look at why now, however, I think some of this is very specific to agendas that exist. I think when we look at treasury secretary Mnuchin and I've listened to him speak on this topic multiple times he's got to be in his bonnet about self-sovereign digital assets. He'll say Bitcoin is fine. He'll basically say it's fine, but he thinks it's stupid, but if you want to own it, you can go ahead and own it. He would essentially say stable coins are fine.

If financial institutions are issuing these they're fully reserved, but unhosted wallets, "Uh-uh, we cannot allow people to have secret Swiss Bank accounts in their pocket and those are his words."

This is the core issue and I think in all of the work on anti-money laundering, countering terrorism finance, the industry has tried to preserve this interaction with self-hosted wallets. It's a core component. It's one of the foundational components of a public blockchain of a permissionless blockchain.

It's core to the innovation of smart contracts and decentralized finance, the ability for an individual to participate in a financial protocol on the public internet, and any regulatory approach to this fact that software can exist that provides self-sovereign access to digital assets. Any regulatory approach to this it seems is now likely to be delivered with a sledgehammer approach rather than what needs to be delivered, which is to consider this with precision tools. This is exactly what appears to be happening as we speak.

Earlier this fall, FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network which is a department within the US Treasury Department issued a new proposed interim rule. Now, this interim rule was about tightening up travel rule definitions in a sense and threshold. Specifically, this interim rule was proposed and it was essentially to say all crypto assets are included in the definitions of money and lowering the thresholds for transactions where all of this personal identity information needs to be exchanged to $250 transactions.

Most crucially, it imposed on domestic transactions, not just international transactions, and this specific interim rule went out for public comment and it's been deeply opposed by the industry. It places an unfair burden, and even larger burden on digital currency firms that go above and beyond even what domestic banks must do so we've had that proposed rule.

Additionally, in the background, we've seen a parent coordination of the finance ministers of the G7 who met this week and appeared to come to a consensus that they want to go further. The kinds of that Mnuchin has wanted to put in place are even tougher. Apparently, these restrictions have been jammed into this new interim rule around interactions with unhosted wallets. Now, this isn't final, and we haven't seen it and a lot of the uproar and a lot of the attention and the letters from Congresspeople, industry leaders, and others are focused on this because if this happens, it has a massive impact.

Again, no one has seen the language and it's being added at the last minute before this interim rule becomes law and the consequences are enormous. In our view, however, jamming this in at the last minute is a total breach of responsible conduct with a period needed for congressional review, a period needed with these refinements for public comment and review something that is so core and fundamental to the core benefit of public blockchain infrastructure.

This kind of rule will undermine the premise and promise of financial inclusion and open access and radically limit the potential for innovation in decentralized finance. Frankly, this would continue to make the United States one of the least receptive countries in the world for the blockchain industry. What's really at stake here? What's really going on for these various finance ministers? What are the real motivations here? Is this purely about, "Hey, we've got to have tighter restrictions on financial crimes enforcement, or is there something else?"

It's interesting. The public quote from the German finance minister, Olaf Scholz. He said, "We must do everything possible to make sure the currency monopoly remains in the hands of states." Maybe this is about something else, maybe this is about an attempt to stem the tide, to plug the hole in the dam around what's happening with digital assets in the world. The motivations are not squarely focused. There may be justifications, but clearly a completely different level of standard being applied to this industry, there appear to be other motivations.

This is in the same week that the Financial Times published a piece about the inevitable rise of Bitcoin in the face of profligate money creation. The piece asserts that the legitimate rise of Bitcoin is happening as an alternative reserve currency and it actually ends with an interesting note. Now, this was an opinion piece but it ends with an interesting note. It says, "Stepping in to regulate the digital currency boom, as some governments are already considering may only accelerate this populous revolt."

The point here is at individuals, investors, institutions want to build on and depend on digital currency and digital assets, and this challenges the nature of governance in the financial system and this is significant. It'll be interesting to see how people respond. Now, obviously, there's an incredible amount of stake for our industry and their question is ultimately what should be done? There are ways to solve the issues and risks that are purportedly being considered here.

In fact, the existing system of anti-money laundering countering terrorism finance is broken and doesn't work. We know the data, there's $2 trillion laundered per year with US dollars. By the standards of leading financial crimes enforcement in agencies globally and others estimate that 98% of money laundering in the existing banking system goes undetected. Clearly, we don't have a system that works, but the solution to this problem, the ultimate solution to this problem lies within public blockchain infrastructure itself.

The only way to address the deep financial crime risks are by building on open public tamper-resistant uncensorable global systems of record keeping. By building on that infrastructure, which is a breakthrough infrastructure, we can build identity protocols. We can build those identity protocols on the very same public blockchain infrastructure that we're building these new forms of money and payment systems and identity protocols that are built on this can preserve privacy.

In fact, they can preserve privacy using crypto in a way that is far superior to the existing financial system, which is prone to an enormous amount of cyber attacks, data breaches, and violations of PII that's on a constant basis. It can do this in a way that allows individuals and institutions to use open networks, to use permissionless networks, to use decentralized finance services and protocols, and this broad array of other decentralized services that are being built on blockchains, whether this is in the world of content or communications or record keeping in other forms. An identity protocol that is open, self-sovereign, and decentralized, can build a model of identity issuers. Identity issuers can be governments, identity issuers can be financial institutions. These identity issuers can offer identity attestations that allow your customer to become know your transaction.

In so doing this, still, keep the vast majority of the benefits of decentralized protocols while preserving privacy and still enabling law enforcement to do their job. In fact, do it more safely, more securely, without vast violations of privacy. This is what the industry can do. This is ultimately incumbent on the industry to do this. The government's not going to do this. Many of these things are only now technically becoming possible. We're only now seeing third-generation blockchain infrastructures that can support this and support this at scale.

The answer here is to stop the sledgehammer before it slams down. Treasury needs to put on the breaks and give industry the time to build out these solutions. If there's heightened concern on unhosted wallets, rather than try to lock it down, for now, identify that there's heightened risks. Demand that financial intermediaries, virtual asset service providers, operate with enhanced due diligence and more proactive monitoring for potential money laundering around interaction with these permissionless nodes.

At the same time, work constructively with the industry as the industry creates solutions that can weave identity onto the public internet, which by the way, also addresses broad regulatory concerns that are around internet firms having too much power on our personal data. The concentration of power with consumer platforms like Facebook, rising identity theft, all these are things that can also be helped and addressed. This goes beyond the financial system into the integrity of the internet.

There's a lot more to come here and a lot more to talk about on the Money Movement, but now what we need is we need the industry loudly and we need policymakers, Congresspeople, senators, in every country in the world because this is a G7 mandate and G20 mandate. This will come down and it will come down hard as a sledgehammer. We need this industry to stand up and stop that from happening. Again, lots more to talk about.

We're going to change gears completely here and we're going to focus on something which I think is ultimately a lot more exciting and uplifting. We had a couple of really great milestones in the last week that aren't just with this regulatory heat, they're about really cool things. USDC crossed three billion in circulation. It's handled over 230 billion in on-chain transactions. It's been really incredible growth. On top of that, Circle launched a major upgrade to its suite of payments and treasury infrastructure for the internet. I'm very, very pleased to be joined here today by Circle's Head of Growth and Product Marketing, Rachel Mayer, and Circle's VP of Product, Joao Reginatto. Welcome and huge congrats on the launch.

Rachel Mayer: Thank you.

Joao Reginatto: Thanks. Thanks for having us.

Jeremy: We got a lot to talk about here. There's a lot going on. I want to maybe just start a little bit with what it is that Circle is putting out in the world as you guys know, but as others may not. We've been rolling some of this out gradually over the last six months culminating in this launch this week. Circle talks about payments and treasury infrastructure for the internet. What does that mean, Rachel?

Rachel: Sure. We've been focused on fostering growth for different types of global businesses that are solving different problems within payments, commerce, financial applications, and we're all doing that using digital dollar stable coins. Essentially what we're doing what we're saying, payments and treasury infrastructure for the internet is connecting those digital dollars like USDC with traditional finance like banks and cards and other types of traditional finance rails, but making that seamless for customers. Letting them have access to the best infrastructure platform that connects those two worlds seamlessly.

Over the course of 2020, as you said, we've rolled out major updates and components to this infrastructure into this product suite from supporting different payment rails, like card and debit, from bank wires to obviously native USDC, rails on different blockchains, marketplace features, and yesterday all of that culminated in a major upgrade with new packaging and most importantly, new, simple, and transparent pricing for our customers.

I think it's important when we talk about payments and treasury infrastructure for the internet, there's a lot out there already talking about embedded finance, Banking as a Service, Treasury as a Service. When you compare those to us, those are just nice wrappers on that old legacy infrastructure. We're doing at digital currency native. We're executing on that vision that digital currency becomes at the core of storing and managing money and value on the internet and facilitating those transactions and making that same user experience that a customer might expect from operating with a traditional infrastructure, but driving the major cost and speed benefits so that a customer can operate globally for all of their banking and treasury needs.

Jeremy: I like that last bit that you talked about, which is there's this next generation of the fundamental nature of money, this actual digital money, actual digital bear instruments, actual open infrastructure that's run on the internet, it's run entirely in that form and that becomes the core. That's the new transaction core, that's the new core, and the legacy financial systems on the periphery in many ways.

As you noted, even just this last week, there have been different products that are launching Stripe Treasury. We've seen cash management products, these kinds of things that are coming out that are built on the existing banking system. The opportunity now is for creators, for developers, to build on, it's a trite word, but a more modern way of operating. Joao, as you think about what that really means, what does that mean to a FinTech? What does that mean to a company that is thinking about creating a financial product? What are the fundamental advantages that come from building on that kind of core?

Joao: That's a great question. Last night I was talking to a group of startup founders in Hong Kong in an accelerator program and we were talking exactly about that. The advancements that I think companies like Circle is pushing to the market and a lot of orders are making. Now I think perhaps for the first time we are seeing just as we have seen, and you were touching on this on your monologue, what we have seen with the early stages of the internet and layer upon layer of protocol advancement and sophistication of abstractions until you get to a point where people have messaging and they have social media profiles and they don't really compare that anymore to, is it this or that protocol? It's all so far up in the stack.

For the first time, I think we are bringing that to FinTechs and to ultimately every company that might have an interest in, as I call, in their app or product have a dollar balance somewhere. This is so broad. The other day I was playing a joke on my phone how many of those apps I have on my phone? How many apps on my phone I have a balance with the financial system.

You end up finding that there are things in there that you don't expect. There's the app that I used to rent my scooter around Massachusetts. There are very other broader things like that. I think the advantage now for these companies is that they have an alternative. They have an alternative when it comes to Banking as a Service and all these services that are components or building blocks to building those solutions and embedding that into their products or services. They now have an option that is just as sophisticated and abstracted from a user experience for them point of view which means. it's a good enough API. It's the abstraction is at the right level. It doesn't involve having to hire engineers that can code directly on the blockchain level and things like that.

Obviously then, so they can represent money, store money, transact, but do that in a way that is connected to these public chains that are completely interoperable with a number of other services. That just keeps growing global by nature, very cheap and very effective to transact on. That's a significant benefit. I think a lot of people still are not just-- people, I mean entrepreneurs and developers and technologists building these products and services around the world. They're still not educated enough in how you now are almost on par with what you have in terms of quality of service with traditional banking as a service and treasury as a service and payments but it's pretty much there in some matter of when now I think.

Jeremy: In some way is, right the scalability, the security, the efficiency with just USDC on different blockchains. It's like a dramatic improvement over existing settlement systems. Really, I think if you're an entrepreneur or an established FinTech or a commerce firm or whatever, and you want to embed and integrate with how money moves on the internet like this is the place to start, and then you integrate out to to the rest.

Rachel, I know we've seen as we've beta and rolled things out, and before this full launch, we've seen a lot of different use cases for building on this many, many different industries just talk for a minute about this. This is like a general infrastructure we see as valuable to a lot of firms, but just talk a little bit about what we've seen and what we think we're going to see.

Rachel: Over this year, we've seen hundreds of companies sign up to use our services all across the world spanning many different use cases. These customers are truly highly global in nature. They span over 34 different regions of where they're doing business, where their customers are doing business and 70% of our customers are actually outside of the United States. The core use case that we saw in the beginning of the year are our crypto finance peers, our crypto native companies, both small and large building premier wallets focused on savings and lending and exchanges, and digital collectible use cases. These firms are looking to leverage us for accepting card payments accepting bank wire payments with USDC as that settlement currency to be used in their own products.

They're using us for direct USDC storage and custody and liquidity and our forthcoming yield digital dollar account and APIs as well. We're seeing strong demand to compliment that settlement in-store value with high yield offerings for their own corporate balance sheets or offering in turn to their users as well, but even be beyond just crypto finance and just in traditional finance applications and companies we are catering to banks, large banks who want to use USDC as another payment rail within their application. Just as they support an ACH or a Swift wire they want to be able to have a USDC payment option for either a small business or an end consumer and FinTechs as well, spanning B2B payments, cross-border, and international payment settlement, savings, and lending, trade finance, treasury, and brokerage management, digital securities.

We're just starting to see outside of finance more broadly traditional commerce industries, like a global freight operator that sees USDC as a superior method to paying their vendors and suppliers and cross-border payment operations. A company we like to see a lot is Gig economy workers. Arcade City uses us for accepting card payments for a new economic model for riders and drivers all around the world they're using crypto because they know that that will provide inherent benefits to getting paid in USDC to drivers and markets all over the world. We talk about mainstream use cases outside of trading within the crypto industry a lot. It is happening and it's happening here at Circle, and it's happening with USDC and it will continue to happen in 2021.

Jeremy: Awesome. I want to drill into a couple of details Joao just maybe briefly and actually, if you want to pop up the site, that's totally cool too. Just talk about the capabilities that are there. This is this very full suite that we've rolled out and I think would be cool to let me see if I need to give you special privileges here. You got it. All right. Cool. Excellent.

Joao: That's the fresh and awesome website that we have right now at the moment. All of Circle products, they surround this core piece of capability that we call the circle account. I'll just pop in over there, which is as we call it the new financial account for global businesses. This is a hybrid and provides for businesses, a hybrid product that obviously can navigate Fiat rails, but has its core component, a treasury management and, almost like a bankings solution for businesses where they can store value and transact across hybrid rails. As I mentioned, Fiat and crypto. It's the core component of our product suite now. A lot of businesses have a ton of utility just from utilizing this.

This will get even better as Rachel said as we launch in early 2021, our high yield account product that is bound to that. Then the Circle account product is is is surrounded by these API products and I'll pop a couple of those. We have the flagship product on the API front, which is really our payments product which allows customers to basically accept payments from a broad set of rails, whether they are traditional like cards and bank transfers or crypto like USDC payments and others in the future, but have this common API access across all of those and this common way of settling payments and reconciling payments across all those.

Jeremy: A single API, take a card payment, take a wire, take a USDC payment so it's crypto payments and legacy rails. All of it just settles into this core circle account as digital currency

Joao: Settles in core digital currency in a way that you don't need a bank account as it's typically required as an accessory settlement instrument and payout instrument for when you hook up into these kinds of more traditional services, you have this account it's pure digital currency native with us and obviously from then you can turn around typically as you say the follow the money approach, obviously businesses are going to have a very different set of needs for those funds, whether it is to pay their employees, pay their suppliers. Obviously, they have access to doing that in digital currency form which inherits all the benefits of that.

That's a tremendously interesting product. That's getting a lot of traction with our customer base. Payouts is the next thing that we talk about, and this is effectively the opposite direction but obviously, a lot of businesses have this core need, which is I need to pay out several hundred, sometimes several hundred, several thousand entities, whether they are individuals or businesses, whether it is ad hoc or in one batch at the end of a month or something like that. Again, we support very similarly capabilities on the payments front, on the payouts front. You can, again, issue payouts from your core circle account and digital currency form, whether it is over blockchain rails reaching anywhere where the internet goes or whether it is also through traditional rails, such as wire transfers and things like that.

Jeremy: With the blockchain rails, you could push a payment to someone's through a wire or an ACH transfer, which is the traditional way, but you can also push a payment to a digital wallet through USDC and now this is on Ethereum on Algorand on Solana, and really soon on Stellar and very likely many other chains over time. We have these public infrastructures to distribute out and which have that global reach.

Joao: There's really no comparable in the world in terms of a product that this, right, as you said, that has this type of reach that we have with the traditional fiat rails that we have support for and that will keep having support for. You can already reach north of 80 countries, but then it has all the quality attributes of fiat rails, which we all know, and there's a lot of restrictions there. You can also reach your customers or your entities that you need to pay out to in USSC form. Now, as you mentioned, across already four blockchains which can vary in terms of quality attributes, can vary in terms of ecosystems. It really depends on the interest that you have. This is creating a tremendous amount of value in terms of the network that is accessible right now.

Jeremy: This ties back to my earlier comment, right? In almost every country in the world, there are wallet services, there are exchange services that go from USDC into local currencies, local bank accounts. That exists, that global network of connecting through the open internet, open standards, and open protocols. It's growing fast and that exists. Essentially, a business can plug into that. They can plug into beaming a payment to Korea, to India, to Argentina, to Mexico, throughout Europe, all these places and do that over the open internet. That's the profound part of this which is such a huge improvement over the existing legacy payment system.

Rachel: Not bound by banking hours. It's 24/7.

Jeremy: Yes, that's what people come to expect from the internet like, "Oh, no. I can't send a text message. My carriers turned off. The internet is turned off.

Rachel: Exactly.

Joao: Again, it's an area that I think we are all very passionate about as well, touching again on something you were talking about on your monologue. You can reach people with value that is useful, and that has tremendous quality attributes when all they need to have is a phone and an internet connection. People talk a lot about serving the unbanked. This is actually putting infrastructure in place to allow businesses to build on top and effectively make that happen. We're very passionate about that.

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Joao: Then following the digital dollar accounts product, that's a tremendously useful product as well. I was talking about the joke that maybe somebody's looking at my phone and all the apps that have a dollar balance on it. This is essentially the kind of product that suits those types of applications. Whether it is a peer-to-peer payments product that an entrepreneur wants to build or whatever it is a ride-sharing service that somebody wants to build that is more innovative in nature. If you have those products but you have the need to hold a balance for your consumers and to allow them to transact with each other on platform or in and out of the platform, this is the product for them. This is a product that allows you to create as many as flexible as you want an infrastructure for sub-accounts that are connected to your Circle account. You can then transfer funds between your Circle account and all of those sub-accounts across them in and out on-chain across fiat rails, very, very powerful [inaudible 00:43:07].

Jeremy: This is that Treasury as a service, here you go, just spin it up, customize it to your business model, have interoperability globally, and obviously through payments and pay-out, connect to all the other places that you might want to connect to.

Rachel: Right. Instead of it being tied to routing numbers, it's tied to blockchain addresses. Yes, it's a currency.

Joao: Again, connected to all these blockchains that USDC is already connected seamlessly. You can have a single account representing value for your customer that can receive USDC from Etherium and send USDC to Solana on the Solana blockchain very seamlessly with the same set of APIs.

Then finally, marketplaces. Marketplaces is really an extension of the payments product for a more specific and more niche segment which is the segment of particularly global marketplaces who always have this at least dual-sided, but sometimes multi-sided element to it where you have some form of buyers and some form of sellers in the marketplace. You typically combine a lot of the capabilities of our other products in an offering that suits marketplaces because typically, these entities on a marketplace, they need an account to hold value in a marketplace. As a buyer, you might have an account to pay for the things you want to buy and as a seller, you have an account to receive obviously from the goods or services that you're selling. You also need infrastructure to get pay-ins and payouts in and out of the platform that you're interested in. We offer this product, which is again, unheard of in the market, I think, in terms of the ability to cover the geographies that we cover because of the reach of USDC across all the chains that are supported and this hybrid ability to take payments and make payouts also across fiat instruments. This is really powerful. We are seeing very good-- We have a couple of tremendous customers in this product already and a lot of promise for 2021 for sure.

Jeremy: Certainly that business model of these multi-sided vertical commerce markets is a really powerful one. I know it's also one where, in our partnership with Visa, there's a lot of focus on how do you payouts from these marketplaces to all the diverse types of creators, sellers, that are around the world? Some cool use-cases there. I want to just quickly turn to you, Rachel, and actually, if you want to put the site back up, actually, I think just to help clearly communicate that. Now you got it clearly communicate that.

Rachel: [inaudible 00:45:43]

Jeremy: You got it. Clearly communicate if I'm a business, what do I do? Where do I start? What does this cost? Is this straightforward? I think this is one of the most exciting things that we launched yesterday is really trying to make this highly accessible to businesses and have them understand exactly what's involved financially. Let me know if you need to be enabled for sharing.

Rachel: Joel, maybe can you share the pricing screen? I'm having some issues with my settings.

Jeremy: [unintelligible 00:46:18].

Rachel: Everything starts with that free Circle account for businesses that Joel walkthrough. We support opening a Circle business account in over 100 different countries. They can connect, convert, store USDC, securely make payments, generate yield, convert in and out of banks and use those third-generation blockchains. This is a free service for any size company.

Jeremy: That's like custody, security, soon high-yield in and out from the banking system, multi-chain payments, all that. It's just like a free business account.

Rachel: This will be the future digital dollar banking account that a company won't have to think twice about how to open and manage their funds and operations [inaudible 00:47:11].

Jeremy: We imagine every internet business in the world ought to have an account like this, probably.

Rachel: Yes. On top of that, this is their financial infrastructure home. If they decided to either improve upon their treasury operations, or they want to start building apps and services and websites that deal with money, we've exposed API services built for automation, customization, and integration for any kind that is connected to their Circle account for use-case for money. These API services are available with subscription plans and usage fees that are super highly competitive. Payments. Any business can accept traditional forms of payments from cards, ACH, wire transfers, also USDC. If they sell directly to USDC as in your Circle account and that starts at $1,000 per month and you can scale with us as you grow. If you have high volume or need customization for different regions, then you can talk to our sales team and we'll work with you on an enterprise plan.

Similarly, if you go to our payouts which Joao was just talking about where you can automate payouts to customers, partners, suppliers, and use-case, again through traditional means like bank wires, that starts at $250 a month. It's very affordable, competitive, transparent. Key-value for us is to be able to any single company be connecting the dots to what their need is and know this is the product for me and this is how much it's going to cost similarly with our values.

On digital dollar accounts, this Treasury infrastructure for any commerce system is significantly flexible and there's different types of customers and use cases. With our marketplace product, making it really crystal clear that you can get access to our payments product, our payouts product, but then for the additional features that are built for those specific marketplaces that are facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers, there's an additional small fee on top of that. Then embedded across all of these will be high yield accounts in 2021. Those will be included in their subscriptions as well.

Jeremy: That's awesome. Obviously, there's the US dashboards for things that are available to people as well. While we're up here, and this may be the last thing to cover as is very clear, the concept here is you might have an account but you're going to have people building apps on this. You want to automate things, integrate things. This is developer-led. Developers, web application developers, and others can really build this into what you're doing with your business. The developer focus is really big, maybe Joao, just take a quick peek at the developer section, and what that looks like if you have a developer on your team, what do they need to know?

Joao: Yes. We are all developers. I think even Rachel and I-- [crsosstalk]

Rachel: Also Jeremy.

Joao: I heard about that. I haven't seen the proof, but yes.


Joao: No, I'm kidding. I have personally quoted on cold fusion so I can attest to that. We always had a strong development and software engineering DNA at Circle so we are heavy consumers of APIs. When it came to developing these products, we always take a developer-first mentality that I think surfaces in the way that we allow developers to experiment with all of this infrastructure. We have a sandbox environment that is openly available for everyone to try.

If you are a developer yourself, you're not too fond of contacting sales and going through all of that. You don't need to talk to anyone, you can go straight to the sandbox environment. You can obtain an API key. All we need is your email address, obviously to communicate with you. We'll give you access to the sandbox environment, which is like for like with the infrastructure that we have on the live environments, exactly the same capabilities, exactly the same behavior.

It's actually connected to test nets across all of the blockchains where USDC is supported, so on Etherum, on Algorand, and soon on Solana and Stellar, we always connect to test nets. We like to say that there is no better way now to build a USDC faucet on all of these blockchains than to actually connect to our sandbox environment and utilizing our APIs. You can basically understand exactly how the services are going to work for you on the first 15 minutes of utilizing our products.

Then the second part outside of the sandbox environment is obviously our API documentation which we put a lot of effort on. There's an extensive set of over 50 guides in there walking people through, taking their first payment, and making their first transfer, storing their first amount of value, and obviously then, the subsequent details of each product. There's a lot of content in there but certainly, enough for-- We get very good feedback on this from developers on our platform, certainly enough for people to get going on their first [unintelligible 00:52:45]

Jeremy: The core message here is almost any business can sign up for a Circle account and get immediate benefits on a first-party basis for what they're doing. They can then immediately get their developers to get access to our sandbox. In fact, developers can get access to the sandbox even without having the Circle account open, but nonetheless, developers can get in and actually build out whatever applications that they can dream up in these areas without even needing to contact our sales organization.

Then when they're ready, they know what the pricing is, they know what it's going to be, they can get signed up and get launched in production and go which is pretty awesome. This is awesome. I'm really glad we could walk through this. I'm really excited for everything that you guys have worked on and the rest of the Circle team, and just thanks so much for joining on the show today.

Rachel: Yes, thanks for having us.

Joao: Thanks, Jeremy.

Jeremy: Absolutely. A big week, a big week for Circle, a big week for USDC, a big week happening for our industry as we speak. We're going to see what goes down in the next seven days and we'll have surely a lot more to talk about here. Until next time, stay well, stay safe, and stay informed.


[00:54:28] [END OF AUDIO]

Jeremy Allaire
Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman at Circle
Joao Reginatto
Head of Product, Circle
Rachel Mayer
Head of Growth Circle

Get more insights in your inbox. Sign up today.