Digital currency first: app Circle gets licence from FCA. $50mn support from global banks

Date: 04 May 2016


Anthony Villis, managing partner at First Wealth, talks about a money-sending app ‘Circle Pay’ launching in the UK using Bitcoin technology supported by global banks.

What are the big tech investment trends at the moment?

Virtual reality and its applications, internet of things, digital fitness and wearables. Looking at fintech investments, alternative lending with peer-to-peer platforms and robo-advisers.

What’s the future of Bitcoin?

It is definitely still one of the key words in fintech alongside blockchain. An app called Circle Pay that uses the technology behind Bitcoin is launching in the UK with the support of several banks including Barclaysand Goldman Sachs. This app allows customers to transfer money with messages and emojis, and make currency transfers between pounds and dollars. Circle Pay has received an e-money licence from the Financial Conduct Authority, which has granted about eighty such permissions although this is the first one for a company operating a digital currency. As an aside the FCA does not regulate Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency has experienced serious volatility in recent years. Many challenges face its use in mainstream applications especially in regulated environments such as financial advice and asset management so its use is heavily restricted, but we continue to track its development.

Robo-advisers: how can they change the wealth sector?

Robo advice has the potential to be great. For clients who need guidance, or help with building a portfolio, we believe it will offer more options in the market. However, the technology is still in the early stages of development. Asset managers are either investing in or developing in-house robo capabilities or are considering acquisitions in the space, highlighting the unknown disruption that these new technologies could create.

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