Circle review: P2P payments and Bitcoin money transfers

1 November 2017

Circle We often look for alternative methods to make international money transfers as existent services often feature high processing fees and other inconveniences. The market of such alternative payment options is rather diverse and today we can have a closer look at Circle Internet Financial, a Boston-based fintech startup providing money transfers service with Bitcoin protocol underlying its technology.


The Company founded by Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville as the peer-to-peer payments technology vendor in October 2013 is backed by major investors such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays. At the time of its inception Circle was primarily focused on Bitcoin trading, but later threw cryptocurrency exchange services overboard and decided to use Bitcoin only for international remittances instead.

Circle was the first fintech startup to obtain BitLicense in September 2015 issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services. The license was put in force by the NYSDFS on August 8, 2015 in a move to help operators of virtual currencies conduct their business activity on a legal basis in New York and the New York state. Later in April 2016 Circle obtained the approval of the virtual currency licensure on the part of the British authorities.

The pith of the service

The pith of the service

Circle provides peer-to-peer payment services with the use of its mobile application dubbed Circle Pay. It functions almost the same way as many similar services in the market including, Square Cash or Venmo, but unlike these payment providers Circle charges virtually zero fee for transactions and allows customers to make transfers in Bitcoin even if a sender or a recipient has no Bitcoin coins, as the fiat currencies could be easily converted into the cryptocurrency, and the converse is also true.

In order to start using the money transfer services provided by Circle, a potential customer needs to download its application and subscribe for an account. The registration process requires provision of such personal data as phone number, bank account and currency to be used for transactions. It would be better for a user to have all three matches, otherwise a user may face some issues with the registration, as Circle automatically assumes that if your phone number is registered with the US carrier, then your bank account will also be with the US bank.

After the subscription procedure is complete, a user will be sent an alert every time the money is transferred. Many users give their preference to work with the web version of the service instead of the application, as the interface may somewhat look sophisticated.

Funds may be transferred to another user either from a debit card, credit card or a bank account linked to the Circle account. To initiate the payment, a user just selects a recipient from the contact list and sends the money in the message. Funds received from other users are also credited to the Circle account, after which they could be easily withdrawn to a bank account.

The key differentiator of Circle money transfers, as we have already mentioned above, is that it allows customers to make remittances in Bitcoin. It means that users will not have to pay any exchange rates, safely sending money in any of the three available currencies: US dollars, UK pounds or Euros.

How Circle makes profit

Circle, in fact, makes no profit from the transaction processing, because it charges no fees, while the conversion rates are almost at the zero level as compared to many similar services. Circle’s main focus is on attracting more customers, and after it reaches a desired client base, it plans to introduce new functions and features, including lending and saving instruments, which will make money for the company. Circle eyes to further develop social payments and blockchain-based products.

How Circle makes profit


Circle implements a strong package of security measures, which ensure safety and peace of mind for its customers. Some of such measures include two-level encryption of user data and PCI-DSS standard. Besides, Circle is using a two-factor authentication process and an option to terminate all sessions on user’s devices if one of the devices is occasionally lost or compromised.

On the top of all security strategies practiced by Circle there are regulatory guarantees. Circle is a FinCEN regulated money service, which means that all cases of potential financial crimes are thoroughly monitored by the US authorities. Apart from that, all Circle accounts are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000.

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