Circle seeks to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that would place its valuation at $4.5 billion.
The news became public on Thursday, when Circle announced the planned merger with Concord Acquisition Corp., making the firm the latest in a list of cryptocurrency companies planning to go public. Circle is the issuer of USD Coin (USDC), the second-largest stablecoin by market capitalization. At press time, USDC stands at a market cap of around $26 billion; market leader Tether (USDt) has a market cap of over $62 billion.
SPACs experienced a boom during the earlier months of the year, with almost $100 billion raised in over 300 SPACs. SPACs allow a number of investors to pool funds together in order to invest in a target company and take it public.
Circle CEO Jeremy Allair took to Twitter to comment on the move on Thursday, saying that the decision to go public "creates an opportunity for Circle to also provide significantly more transparency about the business we are building around USDC, and about the reserves that back USDC."
Transparency around stablecoins has been discussed at length and increasingly so over the last few years; however, most of the time, it is top stablecoin issuer Tether that is hit with the majority of criticism around transparency practices. The firm recently released a breakdown of its reserves, following a proposal made by Tether as part of its settlement agreement with NYAG, which outlined the ongoing publication of Tether's reserve breakdown. The information, while long awaited by market participants, didn't satisfy everybody, with some expressing concern over Tether's decision to hold less than four percent of its reserves in cash.
At the time, Tether General Counsel Stuart Hoegner told the BTC Times that "Tether's strategy is to pursue superior returns and, in so doing, safeguard its reserves portfolio. Three-quarters of the portfolio is in cash, cash equivalents, and other short-term deposits and commercial paper, so it is misleading to focus exclusively on cash within that category."
USDC has so far received less public scrutiny than Tether; the plan to take Circle public now creates a spotlight on the company, with some suggesting that USDC didn't satisfy transparency requirements. While the firm previously wrote in its monthly attestations that it held USDC's reserves at federally insured US depository institutions, it began allocating funds to "approved investments" after February last year — a term that has yet to be elaborated on.
"With upcoming public filings, and new USDC reserve attestations, our intention is to provide a detailed summary of USDC reserves," Allaire further commented on USDC's transparency roadmap on Twitter.
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