Circle: The technological solution for splitting a bill

The company is headquartered in Dublin

If you've ever tried to transfer money to friends, you'll know that it can take a few days for the payments to process and there can often be charges involved. 

This is where Circle comes in. Sean Neville, co-founder and president of the company, explains what exactly his business is. 

"We're a social payment company that allows money to be transferred, just like content. That is cross border, cross currency and around the world. It's rather like WhatsApp, but for money. You can send notes, messages, pay people back for buying a beer, give a gift or pay your rent."

Circle allows for users to have threaded conversations, just as they would in WhatsApp or Viber, but with the added benefit of being able to share money. 

"We think of money today just as data in a database. It's exactly the same as videos, photos and files. Money traditionally has been locked in those databases and not as fluid as content. Things are changing, however, and we're excited about the opportunity to make money work just like everything else does on the internet," continues Neville. 

 

"Usually, traditional banking takes time and comes with fees," comments Neville. "We're coming towards a time where there will be no fees for sending money or for holding it. There is no fee for us to send an email to each other, so it should be the same for the transfer money. We're using a whole host of technology in the background to make it as close to free to us so we can make it free for the consumer. We use blockchain technology based on Bitcoin to send money around the world, instantly. We also use applied AI technology and machine learning to lower the cost of managing risk and protecting against fraud. The costs are very low, meaning we can pass on no costs to the consumer."

Security concerns

As consumers, we know that security is of paramount concern when it comes to our money. The use of technological solutions for payments are not exempt from those concerns. Neville says Circle is well aware of that, and provides adequate protection for its users.

"It's very secure. We use the best technology available to protect all of our data, including personally identifiable data as well as money. Money is nothing more than numbers in a database. We're not a bank, however, so when we hold the money of our consumers, we use banking partners. Barclay's is our banking partner in the UK and throughout the EU. When we hold your money, it is actually being held by Barclay's and its protected by Barclay's infrastructure."

Users looking to set up a Circle account may be pleasantly surprised to find fewer hoops to jump through in comparison to other FinTech solutions. 

"We require a minimal amount of information. That information does increase as you do more with the service. So, we take a risk based approach. If you're sending me €5, that's less risky than sending €5,000. We have different risk profiles, based upon what you want to do. If you are intending to just pay your friend back for buying you a pint, all we need is your mobile phone number and an email. At the other end of the spectrum, if you are moving a lot of money, we are a regulated financial institution so we are required to gather more information about your identity."

The beauty of a service, such as Circle, is that it ends the dilemma of splitting the bill on a night out. It's possible to create a thread with those around the table, send a photo of the receipt and transfer money straight away to the person who pays for the meal on their card. 

Dublin 

The app is free on both iOS and Android, following the launch of the service in Ireland at the end of last year. The firm is headquartered in Dublin, with around 120 people working for the firm globally. 

"Dublin is our international headquarters, many of our developers are also based in Boston," says Neville. "It's a very short flight between the two. We also have an office in London and in San Francisco too."

Originally published on February 2nd.