Poloniex splitting from Circle, ending service for US customers

Americans are about to lose one of their cryptocurrency options, as Poloniex is exiting the market. Circle have announced the exchange is “spinning out” of their portfolio, to be run by a new company.

The Circle Twitter account broke the news on October 18, providing details of the massive change:

While Circle emphasized the $100 million investment from an Asian group, users quickly noticed the exchange would be winding down for Americans in the fourth post of their Twitter thread. U.S. trading will cease on November 1, 2019, and withdrawals will end on December 15, 2019.

In an accompanying blog post written by Circle co-founders Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire, Circle noted they would be making trading free between October 21, 2019 and the end of the year.

The good news, they wrote, was that this would allow Poloniex to have “the freedom and capital to compete in the international market, and the leadership team of Poloniex will be equipped to scale and grow beyond the scope of what Circle can provide.”

They also noted that Circle made the decision to spin out Poloniex to focus on “mainstream use cases for payments, investment, lending and fundraising.” That includes a renewed focus on their crowdfunding platform SeedInvest, and generally to focus on “a world with an open financial system.”

Eagle-eyed American Bitcoin SV (BSV) community members quickly noted that this marks the loss of another exchange on which they can trade for BSV; but others like noted community member WallStreet5 quickly suggested alternatives.

Poloniex was in the Circle family of products for less than two years. Circle initially purchased the exchange in February, 2018, paying $400 million for the exchange and promising it would “represent everything of value.”

They’ve since maintained an impartial stance in the cryptocurrency space, notably not taking sides during the contentious 2018 hard fork which saw BSV reborn to continue the original vision of Satoshi Nakamoto. They’ve also tried to do right by their users each step of the way, cancelling out trading fees in August to pay back lost BTC from their May flash crash.

Circle to shut down its payment app to support other products

Circle to shut down its payment app to support other products

Fintech firm Circle has announced that it’s shutting down its payment app, Circle Pay. The Boston-based firm said that while Circle Pay pioneered the social payments movement, the company had shifted its focus to other areas.

Circle Pay has been around for the past five years. The mobile app sought to make crypto payments as easy as “sending a message over the phone,” Circle’s founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire stated at the time of launch. Circle Pay was determined to compete with the likes of Venmo and Square’s Cash App which have been the outright leaders in the U.S. payments market for the past few years. However, everything hasn’t gone to plan. Circle Pay has failed to gain the traction that its founders hoped it would, failing to rank in the top 100 finance apps on the apps store. Cash App and Venmo are first and second, respectively.

Circle advised all Circle Pay customers to cash out the funds in their accounts immediately. Those who hold BTC on their Circle Pay accounts were also advised to send their tokens to other wallets, with Circle recommending Poloniex, an exchange it acquired early last year.

The shutdown will take place in three phases. On July 8, customers will no longer be able to transact using Circle Pay, but they will still be able to cash out their funds. On July 31, the company will attempt to return the customers’ funds to their registered bank accounts or cards. On September 30, Circle will cease all support for its payment app and all remaining funds will be turned over to state governments in accordance with applicable law.

Regarding customers who held SegWitCoin BTC prior to the 2017 hard fork, the company stated, “As previously announced, Circle will support and distribute Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV holdings to eligible customers who held a Bitcoin balance with Circle Pay prior to the date of the Bitcoin Cash fork, August 1st, 2017. Eligible customers in good standing will be able to withdraw both their Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV by the end of September.”

Circle, which is backed by Goldman Sachs and IDG Capital, pledged to continue the development of its other products and services. They include the USD Coin, the company’s stablecoin which has received the backing of U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase. The two companies have partnered as founders of Centre, a consortium that fosters the adoption and development of the stablecoin.

The shutdown of Circle Pay comes barely a month after the company announced that it was downsizing in response to market conditions. The company laid off 30 employees in its Boston headquarters and its New York office, blaming it on the lack of regulation which was hurting innovation in the crypto industry.

Jack Liu: Just by living, you’re going to be making Bitcoin transactions

Jack Liu: Just by living, you’re going to be making Bitcoin transactions

“Three is kind of a lucky number,” says Jack Liu, “you’re not really going to get a fourth chance, fifth chance, a sixth chance—so I look at it as like this is all or nothing.”

Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Jack Liu sees the opportunities offered by Bitcoin SV (BSV) today as being the third and final chance to realise the potential he’s always seen for cryptocurrency.

After the decision was made, years ago, not to scale Bitcoin (BTC) and then the problems with Bitcoin Cash (BCH) that followed, Jack is now pinning his hopes on BSV. But to work, he says, reliable revenue streams must be developed for BSV—and fast.

“I think as much as today we sit here with amazing optimism for BSV, if we cannot get BSV adopted on a transaction level, you’re going to see divisions again within BSV. So you’ve got to get transactions going as soon as possible—and that’s where the urgency comes from.”

To that end, Jack and his team—formed since he left Circle just a couple of months ago—have already released two products, FloatSV, an exchange, and RelayX, a ‘superwallet’ that connects BSV with existing payment platforms such as Alipay and WeChat.

Jack’s concern is that transactions must sustain the network of BSV miners by providing them with micropayments. The danger is that the rival version of Bitcoin, BTC, is used purely as a store of value: “The great thing that banks would love to see is if they can make Bitcoin merely ‘digital gold’—they would love that because it would not alter the world that we live in …which is really not that interesting at all. If that was what you told me Bitcoin was going to be, I would never have joined this industry.”

Instead, Jack’s vision is to have BSV playing a part in every aspect of our lives, with micropayments being sent and received between people all the time—during work, rest and play: “I think in the future, if someone notices that you haven’t made a hundred transactions in a day, they might call the police and look for you—because just by living, you’re going to be making transactions.”

Although we may find ourselves making micropayments for things we now think of as free, Jack says that on the other side of the equation, “You probably will have hundreds more income streams daily.” But that doesn’t mean they’re all going to be big money-makers: “I mean income streams as in maybe you open a door for someone and they tip you one cent.”

But small payments made to people in developing countries for providing casual digital services, for instance, could make a big difference in those economies. The aim, Jack says, is for people to be able to start using RelayX with no BSV or fiat money. Instead, they would earn money through the app, and it would get into circulation that way.

BSV is uniquely able to make this possible because its rivals “never had the vision that Satoshi did for the entire system.” Instead, they’re marketing individual use cases, which, when the market changes, will have to pivot: “they’re kind of opportunistic blockchains” whose protocol will inevitably change, making them unsuitable for established businesses to build on.

Hear the full interview with Jack Liu on this week’s CoinGeek Conversations podcast:

You can also watch the podcast video on YouTube.

Please subscribe to CoinGeek Conversations – this is episode 19 of a weekly podcast series. Just search for “CoinGeek Conversations” wherever you get your podcasts, subscribe on iTunes, listen on Spotify or visit the CoinGeek Conversations website.


Poloniex introduces margin-traded Bitcoin SV for international users

There’s a new way for Bitcoin fans from around the world to buy up Bitcoin SV (BSV). In a blog post, Circle have announced that users outside of the United States can now get BSV through margin trading on their Poloniex exchange.

The news came on April 11, shortly after Ethereum Classic (ETC) was also announced available. Using Bitcoin Core (BTC) as the base pair, Poloniex users outside of the U.S. can now get both BSV and BCHABC through margin trading at 2.5 times leverage. They join ETC, as well as XRP, ETH, XMR, STR, FCT, LTC, BTS, DOGE, DASH, MAID and CLAIM.

BSV is also now available for lending, so users holding the only true Bitcoin can choose to lend it to others and gain interest at market rates.

This isn’t the first time that Circle has branched into BSV with its group of products. In December, Circle Invest made BSV available for those who expect long term growth in Bitcoin’s value. Poloniex was also careful to stay neutral before the November 2018 hardfork that saw BSV split off from Bitcoin Cash to follow the original Satoshi Vision, and allowed users to pre-fork trade both BSV and BCHABC.

The immediate reply to the announcement on Twitter was confusion from BSV followers. Poloniex has decided to list the new margin trading pair with the ticker listing BCHSV. Several users replied that they should have simply gone with BSV, which it is more commonly known as. So if you’re looking to go trade on Poloniex for the real Bitcoin, take note.

If you do go acquire some BSV, there’s plenty of new ways to use it. Keep it safe in the recently announced Keevo hardware wallet,  record the weather to the blockchain with Weather SV, or shop with some of the top sites using The White Wallet.

That’s a lot of options, and they’re made possible by BSV’s ability to scale the blockchain. If that’s something you’re really excited about, why not join some of the people who make it possible at the CoinGeek Toronto conference. It will happen on May 29-30 and that’s coming up fast, so register now. You can even use some of that margin-traded Bitcoin SV via Coingate to save money on your entrance.

Jack Liu: Fulfilling the vision for Bitcoin

Jack Liu: Fulfilling the vision for Bitcoin

Senior executive Jack Liu is leaving his job at Circle to help fulfil the destiny that he sees for Bitcoin. He’s set out his thinking in a manifesto that, appropriately enough, he’s posted on the Bitcoin SV blockchain.

Starting with a quotation from the English poet and visionary William Blake (“to see a world in a grain of sand”), Jack’s message take the form of a letter “to my future self”. In it, he writes about the utopian future he hopes he’ll one day inhabit.

There’s no mention of Bitcoin in his post, but there are hints of themes that will be familiar to those who have speculated on the kind of changes that a complete crypto revolution might entail.

So, for instance, he hopes for his future self that “your world will be frictionless and marked by truth, freedom and fairness. Your world will truly be one that is defined by human imagination and honest work.”

Ideas that Bitcoin could allow the fair valuation of all work are hinted at in the desire that “people would be able to afford the one luxury that could not be bought – time – by reaping the true value of their labor.”

Jack’s taken risks to follow his belief in Bitcoin ever since he quit a well-paid job in investment banking and moved to Silicon Valley six years ago, to investigate the crypto business.

Since then, he’s worked in many different roles in crypto, most recently as Managing Director, Asia for the crypto finance company, Circle. Many of those roles, including Chief Strategy Officer at OKCoin, have meant building products that create better bridges between the worlds of fiat and crypto.

He explained the motivation behind his move: “this industry is so messed up right now,” he said. The problem is that today “we have one use case” – betting on the price of cryptocurrency. And that’s spawned numerous pointlessly competing coins. To realise the full efficiency gains that Bitcoin makes possible, Jack argues, we need more kinds of transactions, not just financial speculation: “a thousand different use cases, not a thousand different coins”.

As he explained in a recent podcast, he has a much bigger vision for crypto. Speaking to CoinGeek, Jack said that although he is “super-bullish” about the future of Bitcoin (“I’m a growth mindset person”), his latest message is intentionally cryptic – no pun intended. But it’s only the first announcement of his future plans, with more details to follow.

One of Jack’s concerns is the urgency of the need to increase the number of transactions on the blockchain because of the halving of the block reward next year. That way, miners will be compensated by transaction fees to make up for lower mining rewards. As to whether that can be done by next year, Jack sounds confident – and hints that his current plan involves working on a solution.

Finally, I asked why Jack is putting his faith in Bitcoin SV rather than other currencies. “I don’t think I’m picking BSV,” he said, “I think I’m picking Bitcoin.”

If Jack is right, “we are about to enter a new phase in the global economy”. Talk of a crypto bear market will end as the cyclical economy will be relegated to history. Fasten your seatbelts and stand by for a brighter Bitcoin future.

Circle Invest adds Bitcoin SV to portfolio

Circle Invest adds Bitcoin SV to portfolio

Bitcoin SV (BSV) has a new, easy method to get started with Bitcoin as it was originally intended by Satoshi. Circle Invest, an app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, has announced in a tweet the addition of BSV as one of its investment options.

After the contentions Bitcoin BCH hard fork that saw BSV reborn as the only Bitcoin to stick to the principles of what digital currency should be, Circle Invest announced they would suspend all trading of both sides of the fork until they could determine the viability of each coin. Ria Bhutoria, the lead analyst at Circle Research, wrote at the time that if there would be “strong market demand for BCHSV, major exchanges and wallets could eventually roll out support for it.”

That strong market demand is clearly evident, as more miners have opted to stick with BSV. As the only coin that can massively scale on chain, and with 64MB blocks and bigger to come, it provides for low transaction fees and fast transactions.

This move to open investment for BSV gives Circle customers their 13th option when deciding on their crypto investments. As Dr. Craig Wright, one of the leaders in BSV development has noted, one of the primary goals at the moment is to continue to drive adoption. In doing so, Circle Invest customers with BSV in their portfolio can expect increased profits.

Investment is a great way to get started in investing in crypto; however, BSV is digital currency, as laid out by the original Satoshi Vision, and is meant to be used as such. Several wallets and exchanges are now supporting BSV. CentBeeHandCash, Electron Cash, Atomic and Guarda are now allowing users to store and send their BSV, while Raisex is the latest exchange to open up a BSV pair.

It’s getting easier every day to get started on using and owning BSV. As more businesses and end users recognize the potential and ease of use in BSV, it will continue to grow and fatten up those Circle Invest portfolios.

Circle snaps up cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex for $400M

Circle snaps up cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex for $400M

The rumors are true, Poloniex has indeed gone full Circle.

On Monday, the Goldman Sachs-funded payment company announced that it has acquired Poloniex cryptocurrency exchange for $400 million in a bid to extend “its commitment to a new vision for global finance.”

The acquisition was first reported by Modern Consensus in early February, although it was shot down as fake news. Now, the two companies are coming clean, and making some pretty big promises about scaling “risk, compliance, and technical operations.”

Poloniex, one of the most well established cryptocurrency exchanges, is the latest addition in Circle’s product offerings, which also include Circle Pay, Circle Trade, and the upcoming Circle Invest. According to Circle, “Poloniex addresses another key element of Circle’s product foundation: An open global token marketplace.”

Poloniex is the 14th largest exchange by 24-hour volume, according to CoinMarketCap data. Acquisition aside, Poloniex said it remains “committed to preserving the features and functionality that first drew interest” to the platform.

“Any updates we make in the course of this transition will be behind-the-scenes and focused on strengthening user experience, platform performance, and security,” Poloniex said in a blog post.

Scalability, reliability, robustness

Goldman Sachs-backed Circle is no stranger to cryptocurrency. In 2015, the payment platform is the first to receive New York’s elusive BitLicense. Circle also holds UK’s first virtual currency license, which was awarded to the company in 2016.

The Poloniex acquisition is expected to boost Circle’s presence in the cryptocurrency market, all while revitalizing the trading platform’s fortunes. The first order of business, according to Circle co-founders Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville, is to “address customer support.” Circle also plans to scale Poloniex “up and out” via market expansion, localization, increased token listings, and adding connectivity to fiat currencies including USD, EURO, and GBP.

“We envision a robust multi-sided distributed marketplace that can host tokens which represent everything of value: physical goods, fundraising and equity, real estate, creative productions such as works of art, music and literature, service leases and time-based rentals, credit, futures, and more,” according to Circle.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.