Circle Spins Out OTC Business, Sells Circle Trade to Kraken


Kraken today announced the acquisition of yet another major player in the crypto industry, this time taking over Circle Trade, the largest OTC desks in crypto markets that handled last year alone over $24 billion in volume.

Circle Trade, owned by Goldman Sachs-backed cryptocurrency firm Circle, is a core liquidity provider to the entire crypto ecosystem, including miners, exchanges, crypto funds, hedge funds, and family offices.

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The OTC desk was initially tasked with providing liquidity for Circle’s retail bitcoin payments app, but its presence in the market grew to a scale where it began to serve a whole array of counterparties outside their own internal needs.

The decision represents another notable shift in product direction for Circle, which recently laid off roughly 30 people, or about 10 percent of its staff, citing regulatory uncertainties.

The company also discontinued support for its social payment app, dubbed ‘Circle Pay,’ which has been available in 29 countries, including the US, UK, and some EU countries. More importantly, however, Circle sold its US-licensed crypto exchange Poloniex, which it acquired last year in a deal reportedly worth ‎‎$400 million.

Most recently, the crypto unicorn launched and licensed a new subsidiary in Bermuda, and also acquired SeedInvest, an alternative trading system licensed under FINRA. There are rumors that Circle will apply for a banking license too.

Circle Trade to connect clients to Kraken’s suite

Becoming part of the Kraken family will enable Circle Trade to improve its core portfolio reconciliation product while creating new possibilities for clients who will now have easy access to Kraken’s suite of products.

Circle Trade will be led by Nelson Minier, who, for the last two years, has been head of Kraken’s OTC desk. He also plans to expand its team to more than 20 staff.

Over the past two years, Kraken has transformed itself into a global crypto powerhouse, establishing its strong presence in both the US and European Bitcoin markets. Once the largest Bitcoin exchange in Europe, Kraken has also been a strong contender in the US market, with around three percent market share.

Kraken acquired various crypto exchanges, including Chicago-based non-custodial service Glidera and Dutch Bitcoin exchange CleverCoin.

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