Blockchain payment company Circle is aggressively expanding

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Circle China

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Circle, a company that uses blockchain technology to enable instant peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, has raised $60 million from multiple investors, including Chinese venture capital firm IDG Capital Partners and Chinese Internet giant Baidu.

The company also announced that it had created Circle China, a company based in Beijing, ahead of a planned future launch in the world's most populous nation.

Furthermore, Circle said it would soon allow transfers in Euros for customers in Spain as part of a rollout across Europe in the next month.

Circle converts currency into bitcoins for transfer and then converts the amount back to fiat currency once the transfer is complete. Because settlement of Bitcoin transactions depends on the distributed computing power of the network's users rather than a central authority, the transaction essentially becomes free for both parties.

Circle is trying to establish itself in the Chinese market by targeting Chinese investment. The company needs investment to expand, and those expansion plans include China. Circle China should let the company pick the brains of Chinese investors with regard to the market and business relationships.

But Circle is not specifically targeting the domestic Chinese money transfer market, said CEO Jeremy Allaire, according to Forbes. And this is a wise move given that tech giants Alipay and Tencent overwhelmingly dominate this space. Circle will instead focus on the Chinese international P2P payments market, as China sent $2.7 billion to people in other nations in 2015.

Blockchain technology, which is best known for powering Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is gaining steam among finance firms because of its potential to streamline processes and increase efficiency. The technology could cut costs by up to $20 billion annually by 2022, according to Santander.

That's because blockchain, which operates as a distributed ledger, has the ability to allow multiple parties to transfer and store sensitive information in a space that’s secure, permanent, anonymous, and easily accessible. That could simplify paper-heavy, expensive, or logistically complicated financial systems, like remittances and cross-border transfer, shareholder management and ownership exchange, and securities trading, to name a few. And outside of finance, governments and the music industry are investigating the technology’s potential to simplify record-keeping.

As a result, venture capital firms and financial institutions alike are pouring investment into finding, developing, and testing blockchain use cases. Over 50 major financial institutions are involved with collaborative blockchain startups, have begun researching the technology in-house, or have helped fund startups with products rooted in blockchain.

Jaime Toplin, research associate for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on blockchain technology that explains how blockchain works, why it has the potential to provide a watershed moment for the financial industry, and the different ways it could be put into practice in the coming years.

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