Social payments outfit Circle - which enables sterling, dollar and bitcoin money transfers across popular messaging platforms and other media - has launched in the UK with the support of Barclays Bank and an e-money issuer license from the Financial Conduct Authority.
Circle launched its mainstream product supporting US Dollar payments in Q4 2015 on the back of a $50million round of funding from investors including Goldman Sachs, IDG Capital, General Catalyst and Accel Partners among others.
With the UK launch, Circle says UK consumers can now send and receive cross border payments with instant conversion between pound sterling and US dollars with zero fees. For payments transferred to countries where Circle hasn't yet launched, the company uses the bitcoin blockchain to transfer currencies in and out of the national denomination. And, much like the social payments apps developed by WeChat and Alipay, users can send accompanying written messages, emojis and animated gifs with the cash to recipients.
Barclays Corporate Banking is providing the account that Circle needs to store sterling for consumers, and the backbone processing for transfers from any UK bank account in and out of Circle.
Circle's entry into the UK has been welcomed by treasury minister Harriett Baldwin: “Circle’s decision to launch in the UK and the firm’s new partnership with Barclays are major milestones. Together they prove our decision to introduce the most progressive, forward-looking regulatory regime is paying off and cements our status as the world’s fintech capital.”