Digital currency firm Circle is rolling out a product in limited release it hopes will someday prove the “Skype” of Bitcoin.
The group, headed by Jeremy Allaire, co-developer of the Flash media player, announced Wednesday it had closed a $US17 million Series B financing round.
Those funds will mostly be put toward developing a suite of services that will allow customers to store digital assets in a cloud, and subsequently transferred, spent, or received with the ease of an SMS or instant message, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire said.
“The metaphor for the user interface is not so much like a wallet or bank account, but much more similar to sending and receving emails texts, like Skype — but in the context of digital assets,” Allaire told BI Tuesday. “The metaphor is less ‘I’m buying and selling,’ or storing some money and more ‘It’s really powerful to use, I can use it with my friends, especially as more business establishments start accepting it. We expect Bitcoin will go viral.”
Allaire said he hopes to steer Bitcoin away from what he called its heavily “alphamale geek” userbase, while positioning Circle as a trustworthy name in the Bitcoin ecosystem as it recovers from the collapse of MtGox, once the largest digital currency exchange in the world.
“We have a lot of focus on the security we’re putting around it, which is really the key — we’re effectively a custodian of digital assets, so there’s a significant trust burden.” He added he expects news laws and regulations to further help ease consumer concerns about handling digital currency.
So far, the product is by invitation only, and Allaire said its roll-out will be relatively slow.
Investors in the latest funding round include SecondMarket’s Barry Silbert, Pantera — a Bitcoin hedge fund that itself just got a huge cash infusion — and a former official at banking security service SWIFT.