Circle gets $17M to expand bitcoin service, releases first product to select users

Gigaom

Circle, which is contending to be one of the top dogs in the emerging bitcoin economy, announced a major new funding round of Wednesday, but the company is still being cagey about its specific business plans.

Circle was launched last fall by serial entrepreneur Jeremy Alllaire with $9 million, and aims to make it easier for everyday consumers to navigate the geeky, esoteric world of online payments. Wednesday’s funding news means Circle has now raised a total of $26 million, and appears to be in competition with Coinbase, the other big player in the bitcoin space.

Allaire said by phone on Tuesday that Circle is releasing its first product to a handful of users this week, but that the company is holding back on making it more widely available. He stressed that Circle is for now focused on nailing down the technical and security aspects of its bitcoin services, which will help it avoid the embarrassing…

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