Circle launches free Bitcoin banking platform

Bitcoin start-up Circle has unveiled a free banking platform for users of the digital currency.

Bitcoin start-up Circle has unveiled a free banking platform for users of the digital currency.

In a company blog post, CEO Jeremy Allaire explained that Circle intends to offer a range of mainstream financial services for average consumers rather than a trading platform.

He said: "To the average consumer, early Bitcoin products and services were complex, full of friction, unfamiliar, and some were also of questionable reputation in terms of the safety and security of money.

"To make Bitcoin a part of their lives, mainstream consumers needed a new kind of company and a new set of product experiences.

"Our focus is on promoting and supporting Bitcoin as a payment utility and as a secure store of value. We’re not interested in or focused on the speculative value of Bitcoin."

A controversial and divisive form of digital currency, Bitcoin has a chequered past and has been known for its volatility.

The digital currency has had a bumpy ride over the last few months. Low points included:
– the shock closure of MtGox – formerly the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange -in February 2014;
– the banning of Bitcoin trading on Alibaba in January 2014;
– the rejection of Bitcoin as a virtual currency by Dutch, Chinese and Russian regulators.

High points included:

– the launch of Bitcoin ATMs in countries including Australia, the UK and Canada;
– the piloting of a current account linked Bitcoin wallet by Standard Bank and start up firm Switchless;
– the announcement in March by New York state regulators that they would begin accepting applications for new Bitcoin exchanges.

Over the last six months, Bitcoin has risen to a peak value of $1,163 and a low of $340 on Bitcoin exchange Bitstamp. At the time of writing, BTC1 was worth $450.

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