Circle, a crypto-focused financial technology firm, has entered an agreement for a $400 million funding round, the company announced. It is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.
Investors in the round include BlackRock, Fidelity Management and Research, Marshall Wace and Fin Capital.
In 2018, The Centre Consortium issued its USD Coin (USDC), astablecoin that is pegged to the U.S. dollar on a 1:1 basis. This means every USDC is backed by $1 in reserves. The Centre has two founding members: Circle and the cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase.
In addition to the capital raise, BlackRock has entered a strategic partnership with Circle to be its primary asset manager of USDC cash reserves and explore capital market applications for its stablecoin, among other objectives. "Our broader strategic partnership with BlackRock, announced today, will allow us to explore new use cases where USDC may be an efficient resource in the financial services value chain," Jeremy Allaire, co-founder and CEO of Circle, told TechCrunch.
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USDC is the second-largest stablecoin behind USD Tether (USDT) and the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, according to data on CoinMarketCap. Its market capitalization rose about 370% year over year from $10.82 billion to $50.83 billion and about $5 billion in volume was traded in the past 24 hours, up over 39%.
Although USDC ranks in second place for stablecoins, compared to USDT, it has about $32 billion less in market cap and a 24-hour volume that’s roughly $73.6 billion less than the No. 1 stablecoin.
The fresh capital will be used to promote the company’s strategic growth “as demand for dollar digital currency and related financial services continues to scale globally,” Circle said in a statement.
"This is a milestone moment for Circle and part of the “coming of age” of crypto," Allaire said. Circle is focused on continuing to increase mainstream adoption of USDC and blockchain technology for payments, commerce and financial applications, he added.
This funding comes at an interesting inflection point after the firm delayed its SPAC merger and doubled its valuation to $9 billion in February 2022. It was previously valued at $4.5 billion in July 2021. At the time of the delay, Circle terminated its previous agreement with Concord Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded SPAC, only to reach a new deal with the company for a merger.
The original deal had a termination date of April 3, 2022, but the new agreement has been pushed to December 8, 2022, with the potential to be delayed as far as January 31, 2023, under certain circumstances, according to a press release.