Úno 28

So Why Did Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Really Buy Poloniex?

· February 28, 2018 · 10:00 am

Goldman Sachs-backed startup Circle made waves earlier this week when it acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex. A couple of experts share their thoughts on the implications for the soon-to-be first compliant US crypto exchange and its customers.


Most Crypto Exchanges ‘Over-Regulate Themselves’

As the dust settles on Circle’s acquisition of Poloniex, U.S. regulators are keeping a close eye on KYC/AML compliance of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Joseph Weinberg

Joseph Weinberg, OECD Think Tank Special Advisor and Chairman of Shyft, a blockchain protocol that will create a new standard for the KYC/AML mandates, shared his comments with Bitcoinist. He states:

Most crypto exchanges that are processing fiat to crypto transactions are very compliant and, in some cases, even more so than banks. It all really depends on jurisdictions and the compliance policies given by countries to crypto exchanges.

He continued:

For crypto exchanges, the challenge lies in how little formal guidelines there are from regulators. As a result, most of the industry has been doing self-compliance in absence of clear procedures. To err on the safe side, crypto exchanges over-regulate themselves. For example, most exchanges ask for passport verification in order to confirm users’ identities, whereas most banks only require government-issued IDs, such as drivers licenses.

Interestingly, Circle acquired the crypto exchange over a year after announcing it was shifting focus from Bitcoin to blockchain-based services. At the time, the company informed its Bitcoin customers that they can can cash out or transfer their balances to Coinbase, if they wished to continue to use the cryptocurrency.

So why did Circle decide to jump back into the crypto game?

It appears that Poloniex was struggling to keep up with the unexpected surge in new users as prices skyrocketed in the second half of 2017. Additionally, being based in the United States, the company also had to keep up with rising compliance costs as it rolled out its new KYC policies late last year.

Weinberg explains:

In the past, Poloniex had a lot of issues with onboarding new users and properly building out its KYC process, mainly due to the large amounts of time it takes to verify users. Given the level of KYC that exchanges force themselves to go through, scaling compliance is almost a separate product that the exchange has to build out.

According to him, this is where Circle comes in with their KYC/AML expertise. He says:

Through this acquisition, Circle will deploy more people to help handle compliance—more employees to build and process KYC due diligence faster. This is the same type of issue traditional banks have when it comes to scaling. Compliance costs keep multiplying, and yet, they aren’t always found to be effective.

The SEC Is Watching

Meanwhile, another takeaway has been put forth by Nathaniel Popper, author of Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money.

Popper noted on Twitter that the SEC informally suggested to Circle that no enforcement action will occur if the Boston-based startup “cleans up Poloniex and turns it into a regulated exchange.” He adds:

The SEC seems to be saying here that it’s okay if you broke the rules, as long as you get acquired by a legitimate player before we crack down on you.

The question now seems to be whether the SEC will apply this same thinking to other virtual currency exchanges if they are acquired by large players.

In addition to facilitating compliance, Circle also announced that it will add fiat bridges and expand operation to other markets. Namely, the company promised to explore “USD, EUR, and GBP connectivity that Circle already brings to its compliant Pay, Trade, and Invest products.”

This would imply that the exchange must also become compliant and answer to regulators from across the pond, who are currently scratching their heads on how to approach cryptocurrencies without stifling innovation in the process.

Therefore, regulators in the U.S. and abroad could be playing the carrot and stick strategy by providing an incentive for crypto exchanges to get acquired by the large players, such as Goldman Sachs, before a potential crackdown. Admittedly, this could also be a clever way for traditional finance to not only appear innovative through association but also assimilate would-be future competitors.

If true, the strategy may be futile and usher in the Streisand effect to boot. As technology advances, so do new methods of exchanging cryptocurrency. Therefore, assimilating centralized exchanges like Poloniex could force users to migrate en masse to decentralized exchanges and further bolster their development.

Why do you believe Circle acquired Poloniex? Share your comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter/@nathanielpopper.

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Dub 06

Circle CEO: “Blockchain Will Sooner Disrupt The Mobile Payments Industry”

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Barclays

An exciting partnership between Barclays and Bitcoin exchange Circle could lead to a slew of new features and innovations in the digital payment industry. Moreover, this is very positive news for Bitcoin as well, as the European bank is letting Circle use their existing infrastructure to provide real-time conversion from GBP and EUR to Bitcoin, and vice versa.

Also read: How to Implement the Blockchain in Financial Institutions

Circle – A New Era Of Bitcoin and Banking?

Up until this point, very few banks have been keen on the concept of Bitcoin, although they all seem to see high value in the underpinning blockchain technology. In fact, consumers have had their bank accounts shut down in the past due to a link with Bitcoin, which was of particular concern to enthusiast sin the United Kingdom.

But all of that is about to change, by the look of things, as the new partnership between Circle and Barclays can be seen as a milestone for the digital currency. Circle users are now able to send and receive GBP transfers to other users on the platform, as well as convert between USD and GBP without any additional fees.

It is well worth noting the UK Treasury was one of the biggest advocates for this solution, as it is a “significant milestone” to have Circle available to customers in the United Kingdom. Quite a strange statement from an institution that could see Bitcoin as a potential threat, but it is more than welcome news for sure.

But there is more, as Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire hinted at a future expansion of supported fiat currencies. In fact, he mentioned how support for EUR transfers will be coming later this year, and how plans are set in motion to bring Circle to Asian markets as well.  If this were to happen, exciting things are bound for Bitcoin and digital currency enthusiasts.

Jeremy Allaire continued by saying that:

“The blockchain will sooner disrupt the mobile payments industry, which really is a “blank slate” for innovators. Payments are the next thing to be commoditised as a free service”

Barclays is one of the many banks working on bringing common standards for blockchain technology to the table. Once such a protocol is put in place, it should become a lot easier to bridge the gap between Bitcoin and traditional finance. Moreover, all of the participants would be able to benefit from the advantages of blockchain technology.

Are you excited about this partnership between Barclays and Circle? What will this mean for Bitcoin in the UK? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: FT

Images courtesy of Circle, Barclays

The post Circle CEO: “Blockchain Will Sooner Disrupt The Mobile Payments Industry” appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Circle CEO: “Blockchain Will Sooner Disrupt The Mobile Payments Industry”

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Led 04

Bitstamp Enables Bitcoin Purchases Through Plastic Cards In UK And Slovenia

Source: bitcoin

Bitstamp Enables Bitcoin Purchases Through Plastic Cards In UK And Slovenia

Bitcoin exchanges around the world have been looking at various ways to make the purchase of digital currency much easier for novice users. Instant bank transfers are not available in every individual country, but credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Bitstamp has enabled support for residents in the UK and Slovenia to buy Bitcoin with these traditional payments.

Also read: Bitcoinist Weekly News Re-Hash: Samsung Pay Hits Online Shopping, Moe Levin Talks 2016

Bitstamp Embraces Card Support In Limited Fashion

It goes without saying that enabling payments through credit and debit cards could be a risky move on Bitstamp’s end. Both of these payment methods are often linked to fraud and chargebacks, which could be of particular worry for a service provider dealing with non-refundable digital currency in the form of Bitcoin.

However, Bitstamp has gone ahead with enabling plastic card support, although the feature will not be available worldwide just yet. For the time being, only users in the United Kingdom and Slovenia can experiment with these new payment options as both Visa and MasterCard are supported. Other European countries will be added over time, although no further details have been announced.

Based on the Bitstamp blog post, the process of buying Bitcoin with a credit or debit card will lead to instant purchases. It is important for users to keep in mind these transactions are limited regarding daily volume, similar to the service provided by companies like Bittylicious and Circle.

Verification and completion of this procedure will occur through Vogogo, a company that has made a name for itself in the Bitcoin industry throughout the years. By providing advanced risk management solutions to businesses all over the world, Vogogo aims to provide the perfect defense mechanism against fraud attempts through traditional payment methods.

To access this new deposit methods, Bitstamp users in the UK and Slovenia can go to the deposit page, and select “Credit Card’ as a payment option. Then they will have to enter the amount of funds they want to spend – limited to US$300 per day or US$1,500 per week – and once the card details are entered, hit the “Submit” button. Assuming all of the information checks out, the transaction should be completed automatically.

A New Trend For Bitcoin Exchanges Across The World?

Whether or not other Bitcoin exchanges around the world will follow the lead of Bitstamp, remains to be seen at this point. That being said, it is the first time a major European exchange enables plastic card payments, even if it is in a limited fashion for the time being. Considering how much trading volume Bitstamp has on a daily basis, these numbers could very well increase over time.

Outsourcing the processing and verification of plastic card payments to an external payment such as Vogogo is a smart decision on BitStamp’s behalf. Keeping up with regulatory requirements when dealing with [international] bank transfers is hard enough as it is. Plus, if the partner offers that type of functionality, it would be a shame not to use it.

What are your thoughts on the option of buying Bitcoin from an exchange with a credit or debit card? Let us know in the comments below!

Source; Bitstamp

Images courtesy of Bitstamp, Vogogo, Shutterstock

The post Bitstamp Enables Bitcoin Purchases Through Plastic Cards In UK And Slovenia appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Bitstamp Enables Bitcoin Purchases Through Plastic Cards In UK And Slovenia

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