Social payments firm Circle launches into UK market

Dublin-based former Bitcoin start-up teams up with Barclays for launch into Britain

Dublin-based Circle, a former Bitcoin start-up that has shifted its focus towards social payments, is expecting to significantly increase staff numbers locally as it expands into Europe.

The digital currency firm, which has secured $76 million in venture capital from backers that include Goldman Sachs, Accel Partners and Pantera Capital, this week announced it was entering the UK market through a new partnership with Barclays.

The move comes after Circle last month became the first virtual currency company to receive an e-money licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in Britain, enabling consumers to easily make domestic and cross-border payments between US dollars and UK pounds (or vice versa), using blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin.

Circle, which only launched in the US late last year, said that with the granting of the licence, users of its app will be able to make cross-currency transfers at rates considerably lower than traditional services. Moreover, unlike other services, the app allows users to send written messages, emojis and animated Gif videos to send with money transfers.


The Boston-headquartered firm, which employs 12 people in Ireland, established its European HQ in Dublin in July 2014. Founded in 2013, the company is headed by Jeremy Allaire, who founded online video platform Brightcove, which he took public in 2012.

Euro transfers

Speaking to

The Irish Times

, Mr Allaire said that as the FCA licence is a Europe-wide one, it intends to expand the service to allow transfers in and out of euro. It also hopes to add Asian currencies.

“Over the course of the remainder of the year we’ll be rolling out the Circle social payment app throughout Europe. Our team in Dublin is really excited about being able to use euro and so we want to get it up and running as soon as we can,” said Mr Allaire.

“We have 12 employees at the moment in Ireland. . . and it is a really acute team that supports not just our European operations but the global one. The team is set to grow as our customer base expands and we hope to be a major employer in Dublin.”

Circle is available in 150 countries but where it hasn’t launched, customers sending money via can transfer payments to Bitcoin where it can easily be transferred into local currency once received.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist