Circle Internet Financial, a Bitcoin startup, has launched its Web-based consumer wallet product out of beta for general availability globally.
"When we set out to build Circle, we imagined a new kind of Internet-centric consumer financial service, one that the average person would find enjoyable and powerful, built on the promises of Bitcoin instant, global, secure, free transactions.," said Jeremy Allaire, founder, chairman and CEO of Circle in a Sept. 29 blog post.
The consumer product is free to use and available in seven languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, French and German. The company said this covers about 40% of the world's population.
The product, which has been in an invite-only beta for several months, is meant to be accessible to people just beginning to use Bitcoin. The company is working on native Android and iOS apps, which it showed to attendees of the Sibos International banking conference on Sept. 29. These apps are still in beta.
Circle provides a near real-time payments system using Bitcoin. It offers 100% insurance coverage of users' bitcoin account balances from theft through Marsh, a large insurance broker. Since May, when the company announced the insurance, it's been adding underwriters for both online and offline storage.
"Over the past months, it has been exciting to see the Circle team grow and to see our product, operations, support, legal and compliance, security, and finance teams execute on launching our service," said Allaire. "What we've delivered today is the beginning of an arc of innovation that we hope to keep delivering in the years to come."
Circle has been a popular startup in the Bitcoin space to watch; the company has added several high-profile people to its leadership ranks. M. Michele Burns, who chairs the audit committee at Goldman Sachs, became a Circle board member in January, following Mike Hearn, Google's senior security engineer and Michael Barrett, who previously held executive roles at American Express and PayPal.
A handful of Bitcoin startups have attracted top talent from mainstream payments and financial services companies. BitPay, a Bitcoin merchant service provider, has hired several Visa executives recently, including Andy Goldstein, who worked at Visa for 16 years before taking a sales position at the company.
Circle raised $17 million in venture capital in March, bringing its total funding to $26 million.
In May, the company announced it would offer customer phone support, which has been nearly unheard of in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Most Bitcoin wallet providers handle customer interaction via online forms or email.