Circle Snaps Up $60M To Take On Chinese Market

Circle — a popular social payments app — has just picked up $60 million in new funding that will allow it to make some big steps in China with the creation of a new, Beijing-based company: Circle China.

The big-ticket round saw participation from a syndicate of some of China’s biggest investors, including Baidu, CICC ALPHA, China Everbright Limited, Wanxiang and CreditEase. IDG, Breyer Capital and General Catalyst Partners were also participants.

Circle’s niche is allowing users to easily transfer money across messaging platforms and other media, and it has apparently been chomping at the bit to enter China for at least six months.

“We have taken great inspiration from China in our thinking about the future of banking and consumer finance. Social payments as a category started in China and has enormous scale, unlike in the West. The first private banks in China are run by Alibaba and Tencent. Messaging and payments, P2P lending and novel forms of saving and investment, powered by the internet and software, are accelerating at an incredible pace in China, outpacing the West,” Circle noted in a blog post announcing the news.

Circle has been online since late 2015 in the United States, carried into the market by a $50 million funding round care of Goldman Sachs, IDG Capital, General Catalyst and Accel Partners, among others. By April of this year, Circle jumped across the pond for a U.K. launch, aided by Barclays Bank and an eMoney issuer license from the Financial Conduct Authority.

And with China now underway, the last big step, according to Circle, is to get its European wide expansion underway. The initiative is slated to kick off in the coming months.

“Between the U.S., Europe and China, there are 2+ billion consumers who will share value, and we want to enable that experience in the same way that these consumers share messages and content today,” continues the blog post. “We’re on track to exceed a billion dollars in transaction volume on an annual basis, and Circle’s global customer base has grown by 300 percent over the past 12 months — but we’re just getting started.”


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