Why Bitcoin Is Soaring: Goldman-Backed Circle Buys Crypto Exchange Poloniex

Earlier this morning we reported that bitcoin and the entire crypto space surging on what at the time, appeared to be lack of substantial news. Not long after, the catalyst for the surge emerged, in the form of a Fortune report that Circle Internet Financial, a cryptocurrency-focused financial-services firm backed by Goldman Sachs, would announce today that it is buying crypto exchange Poloniex, "a move that immediately makes Circle one of the largest and most influential companies in the industry" and also give the crypto space a much needed seal of approval - and validation - from none other than Goldman Sachs, one of the first firms to adopt cryptocurrencies on the institutional side.

While terms of Circle's acquisition of US-based Poloniex, which was formed in Jan 2014, have not been disclosed, Fortune reported that the deal was for about $400 million.

“We are excited to work with Circle to localize our product in more geographies, to explore options for fiat connectivity across major world currencies, and to continue providing our users with access to innovative token projects that extend cryptocurrency protocols to new use cases,” Poloniex said in a statement.

Circle, which allows users to transfer money via text, said in an statement on its website it will "address customer support and scale risk, compliance, and technical operations to bolster the existing product and platform." An excerpt from its statement is below:

We’re proud to announce that Circle has extended its commitment to a new vision for global finance by acquiring Poloniex, a leading token exchange platform.

Built upon a foundation of blockchain technology and crypto assets, Circle is on a mission to make it possible for everyone, everywhere to create and share value. Circle Pay helps people around the globe connect to one another and share value just as they would share any other kind of content on the open borderless internet; Circle Trade serves institutions and investors as one of the world’s largest providers of crypto asset liquidity; and our forthcoming Circle Invest app enables individuals to tap into crypto asset investment through a simple, seamless, mobile experience.

Now Poloniex addresses another key element of Circle’s product foundation: An open global token marketplace.

We want to take a few moments to welcome Poloniex, present the immediate work you can expect from us with Poloniex right now, and share what we see as its future.

In interviews, Circle’s executives were reluctant to divulge information about inner workings of Poloniex, including who runs it, and they declined multiple requests for interviews with the exchange’s principals, saying that Poloniex’s leadership wished to remain out of the spotlight, Bloomberg reported.

The combined company will compete with large digital wallets and exchanges such as Coinbase. As Bloomberg adds, "the agreement comes as startups and corporations alike are trying to figure out whether to wade into cryptocurrencies. While many have been involved in blockchain for years, there has been more hesitancy around what to do with digital assets like Bitcoin due to volatility and a history of it being used in shady transactions like drugs and evading taxes."

As news of the transaction spread, Bitcoin surged over 4%, back above $10,000, and was trading just above $10,200 last after hitting an overnight low under $9,400.

Bitcoin has hovered around the $10,000 mark for most of the year, or about half the record hit in mid-December.

“It has a lot to do with this announcement of Circle buying Poloniex as it’s providing some support for the exchange industry,” said Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, who forecasts Bitcoin will end the year at $25,000. “Breaking a big round number is definitely a positive, but from a fundamental perspective, it’s highlighting that developments in crypto this year have actually been positive.”

Quoted by Bloomberg, David Mondrus, chief executive of Trive, a blockchain-based research platform, said that the cryptocurrency market may also be benefiting from renewed interest in Asia after the recent Chinese New Year holidays: “I’m seeing a turnaround on multiple cryptos with volume as it’s the week after Chinese New Year,” Mondrus said. “We’re back to business.”

The sharp spike in crypto prices is a reminder of the potential upside in the sector as further validation comes from established institutions, ready to support and adopt the new technology which is increasingly becoming the most popular trading asset among the Millennial population.