In an interview with Fortune published on March 18, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire said that the bear market has diminished investors’ interest in the emerging market and affected Circle’s Over-the-counter (OTC) trading business that has historically proven to be the firm’s biggest source of income.
However, Allaire was upbeat and said that his firm would weather the storm and is doing just fine in the bear market.
The Bear Market and Survival
Allaire admitted that unfavorable market conditions such as lack of volatility are bad for Circle’s business.
“Well, [business] is down. When there’s not volatility, or prices are down, then volumes are down,” said Allaire on Fortune’s Balancing the Ledger, a show that covers topics on the intersection of technology and finance.
Allaire went on to argue that his firm, which he co-founded in 2013 with Sean Neville, is managing the situation.
“We had very significant growth year last year, even though there was a crypto bear market,” said Allaire.
He further added that the U.S.-based financial technology startup specializing in peer-to-peer payments managed to grow its revenues and customer base in the same period.
The blockchain startup has already raised more than $135 million in four rounds of financing from notable investors that include Goldman Sachs, crypto mining giant Bitmain, Chinese technology company Baidu Inc., and others. The startup bought Poloniex, a cryptocurrency exchange in a deal worth around $400 million in 2018.
The startup was valued at approximately $3 billion after its recent round of funding led by Bitmain, but recent reports suggested that the company’s valuation had fallen below $1 billion. Allaire brushed off the reports saying that:
“I can’t comment on specific transactions or specific prices or things like that, but the way that was characterized was inaccurate.”
Future Plans and Dealing With Facebook’s Stablecoin
Allaire said that Circle’s recent acquisition of SeedInvest would enable the firm to venture into the regulated sphere of issuing securities.
He indicated that in the future, his firm would focus more on selling tokenized securities or investment contracts recorded on distributed ledger technology (DLT).
“We’re going to look at ways that we can bring the benefits of digital assets, crypto technologies, and blockchains into this whole area of issuing securities over the internet.”
In October last year, Circle partnered with Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, to launch the USD Coin, the second-most valuable stablecoin (with a market cap of nearly $244 million at the time of writing) after the controversial Tether (USDT).
When the discussion moved towards Facebook’s reported stablecoin, Allaire said that he is not threatened by it but welcomes the competition as it is a sign that internet companies are beginning to appreciate the value of cryptocurrencies.
“I think it’s a great sign that major Internet companies are starting to look at issuing cryptocurrencies. That’s very, very positive in our view overall,” said Allaire.
He added that the stablecoin that is going to win the race is the one that employs an open standards approach – the same strategy his firm is pursuing after partnering with Coinbase.
This, according to Allaire, gives the USDC a competitive advantage over its peers.