Note from the CEO: Well, here is another way to look at bitcoin from some pretty smart folks. Saying the future of bitcoin may not be as a digital currency because they say so is kind of like saying the future of airplanes will be to only fly packages and freight. Not! If enough people choose to accept anything in exchange for goods and services it is currency. So there.
It seems that Circle is going to pivot away from the original intent of getting on the mass movement to establish bitcoin as the “go to” digital currency. Explaining that Circle never really saw bitcoin as a consumer technology but rather as more of a behind-the-scenes technology the firm will no longer allow customers to buy and sell bitcoins. So, basically no retail but upgrading to institutional applications. Backed by Goldman Sachs, this seems to follow the GS model of not dealing with all the “hassles” and regulations heaped on the smaller consumer. Seems more of a business decision than a statement on bitcoin itself.
Circle unveiled itself at a bitcoin conference in 2014, vowing to take the digital currency mainstream. But like so many other startups that embraced this big idea at around the same time, its mission has changed.
In January, I met Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire for coffee in San Francisco. Even then, he was careful to paint his company not as a bitcoin operation but as an outfit that would help people easily trade good old-fashioned dollars with friends and family via a new smartphone app. And now, as it announced yesterday, Circle will no longer allow customers to buy and sell bitcoin.
Allaire says that Circle, a marquee startup backed by Goldman Sachs, never really saw bitcoin as a consumer technology. “When we founded this company three years ago, the vision was never to build a bitcoin company,” he says, comparing bitcoin to internet protocols like http or smtp. In other words, the company saw bitcoin as a behind-the-scenes technology, not as a mainstream digital currency that the average person would use to pay for goods online or in a physical storWell, all these years later, bitcoin is certainly not a mainstream digital currency. And Circle’s decision to stop operating as a bitcoin exchange is just the latest sign that it won’t become one anytime soon.
Despite big promises from early adopters, bitcoin is still plagued by tax and regulatory issues. And the bitcoin community is still fighting over its core technology—a fracas that could significantly hamper bitcoin’s ability to expand in the near future.