Bitcoin services don't perhaps have the best of track records right now, and they can often appear niche and daunting. Circle hopes to change to change that,though, by offering a free and accessible bitcoin banking service for everyday folks.
The service, having raised $US26 million in funding, is opening its service today — although it's a limited release and invite only right now. It provides a web-based interface, which allows you to deposit US dollars, which are instantly converted to bitcoin, without any fees. Bitcoin keys are held in cold storage, and require multiple "signatures" to be brought online. They're also fully insured, and the whole service complies with US money transmitting and anti-money laundering laws. Safer, perhaps, that Mt Gox, then — and also far more approachable.
Indeed, the user interface looks neat and simple — maybe even nicer than your real usual bank's offering — and the site allows you to add tie your bank account and credit cards to your profile to make it easy to move funds around. The whole thing is clearly geared to make bitcoin convenient for normal people.
And, for that matter, it's also designed to feel a little more... official. Unlike other bitcoin services which allow for a certain amount on anonymity, Circle demands customers verify their phone number and email address, and linking a credit requires submitting your name, address and the last four digits of your Social Security number. In other words, you're not going to hide in the shadows — and for many people, that will make it all feel more above board.
Whether that will be enough to actually convince the populace that bitcoin is worth pursuing as a day-to-day currency remains to be seen, of course — but it seems Circle will give it a damn good go. [Circle via The Verge]