Blockchain Behemoth Circle Pivots – Drops Consumer Bitcoin Services

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After culling $60 million dollars last summer to expand their services in China, Blockchain startup giant Circle has announced they are ending consumer bitcoin services, and announced the release of a new product called Spark, a Blockchain-based protocol to facilitate trusted, compliant money transfers between participating individuals and institutions over the Bitcoin network. The new tech isn’t a Blockchain or a new cryptocurrency but rather it uses a combination of bitcoin, other Blockchains and traditional settlement rails to further its mission of promoting a global, social payments platform.

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From their blog post:

We’ve rolled out new messaging capabilities to all Circle customers across all of our apps on Web, iOS and Android. 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.

We’re taking another major step forward today with the introduction of Spark, a set of protocol additions that provides a way for digital wallets to exchange value using blockchains, including Bitcoin, as settlement layers. There are many use cases for the technology, but the initial focus is on connecting digital wallets around the world while ensuring that full KYC/AML and compliance requirements can be met, and presenting a seamless experience that reflects local currency exchange rates and conversion rule contracts.

We plan to release Spark as an open source project that anyone in the world can use and implement, and intend to work closely with similarly-minded ecosystem participants to advance the technology and integrate it with additional public and private blockchains.

Following the likes of Corda, Chain and many others to go to Open Source has further shifted the move from proprietary, patented solutions to architecture that lends itself to crowdsourced development. 

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About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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