Circle Internet Financial aims to make transferring money to a friend across town or on the other side of the world as easy as sending a text message. That plan got a big boost with Wednesday’s announcement of a $60 million windfall from mostly Chinese investors and the formation of a Beijing-based venture that will work to bring Circle’s mobile payments service to the world’s most populous country.
Founded in 2013, Boston-based Circle uses blockchain—the distributed ledger technology that powers the digital currency bitcoin—to enable users to send and receive payments instantly, without fees, via mobile messages that can be personalized with pictures, emojis, GIFs, and so on.
The company got its start as a bitcoin payments service, but has since expanded to traditional currencies. Circle stopped marketing itself as a bitcoin service in recent months, after it raised a $50 million venture round last year and added the capability to send money in U.S. dollars. Bitcoin isn’t mentioned on Circle’s home page,