Circle announced on December 7 that it would be closing doors to direct Bitcoin selling and buying, as well as the introduction of Spark, a new open-source project that will facilitate the transfer of currency across borders.
For customers that still hold Bitcoin, holdings will still be applicable under Circle’s Bitcoin Insurance Policy. Bitcoin holding customers can still withdraw to their linked bank account, but must first convert to USD, GBP, or EUR depending on the area of the client. Once converted, however, the account will remain in fiat currency.
While Bitcoin is still being supported indirectly and will be used by Circle behind the scenes in order to maintain the speed, security, and efficiency for remitting money, Circle is in partnership with Coinbase now and suggests all users buy and sell Bitcoin (as well as Ether) on Coinbase.
The usage of common fiat currencies coupled with the enhanced messaging capabilities Circle is rolling out will allow social payments, their objective since the beginning, to be more seamless and accessible:
“We’ve long argued that social payments are best experienced in the context of the conversations and interactions we have with friends, colleagues, family members and individual sellers. Messaging provides context for a payment, whether that be with a funny image, a photo of a meal shared, a moment from a night out, or a picture of the product someone is selling.”
Initial deposit limits have also been raised, satisfying one of the most frequent requests received by Circle. Circle now claims to have the highest initial deposit limits of any social payments service, which will increase more with frequent use. As before, there are still no restrictions on payments or withdrawals.
Concurrently, Circle announced their new blockchain protocol, Spark. Targeting Korea and the Philippines with the launch, both places with high amounts of money being remitted, Circle has partnered with Korbit and Coins.ph to make this possible.
Through this partnership, Circle users located in the US, UK, Europe, Philippines, and Korea will be able to send and receive international payments just by “sending a message to a phone number or email address.”
All these changes were effectively immediately, as well as their realigned focus to “global social payments and future next-generation blockchain technology rather than devoting those resources to supporting the buying and selling of bitcoins directly.”