Goldman-Backed Cryptocurrency Startup Says It's Profitable

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(Bloomberg) -- Circle Internet Finance Ltd., a Goldman Sachs Group Inc.-backed startup focused on mobile payments and cryptocurrencies, said it has reached profitability and hired a former Boxed Wholesale executive to lead finance and risk.

The company said it expects revenue and profit growth this year. Circle plans to increase its workforce by the end of the year to 400 from 150. The Dublin-based startup also said it hired Naeem Ishaq as chief financial officer and head of risk. Ishaq had been CFO at e-commerce startup Boxed, and previously was head of finance, strategy and risk at payments company Square Inc.

Founded in 2013, the startup uses blockchain technology for its mobile payments app, called Circle Pay. It has expanded to include Circle Invest, a platform for investing in digital assets, and Circle Trade, an over-the-counter trading desk for cryptocurrencies. Circle Trade, which handles as much as $4 billion a month, acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers. Its average customer order is more than $1 million, according to Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Allaire. Earlier this year, the company acquired Poloniex Inc., one of the larger digital-token exchanges, for a reported $400 million.

From December through February, the company said it facilitated more than $75 billion across its platforms. In that same time period, revenue was more than $250 million, according to a person familiar with the company’s finances.

Circle competes with a variety of digital wallets and exchanges, including Coinbase Inc. Crypto trading platforms are becoming increasingly crowded, as companies ranging from Square to stock-trading app Robinhood have rolled out capabilities. At the same time, other firms have started to distance themselves from the volatile digital-currency market. Earlier this year Stripe Inc. said it would end support for Bitcoin payments due to long transaction times and high fees. Facebook Inc. said it would ban ads that promote cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

Circle is backed by about $140 million in venture capital from investors such as Goldman, Baidu Inc., and investment bank China International Capital Corp.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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