Monday 19 February 2018

Dublin tech firm launches new instant way to split the bill in a restaurant

Image: Getty
Image: Getty
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Dublin-based ‘social payments’ company Circle has launched a new service that lets groups send and receive money across multiple users for free.

The move is the latest from the company that is trying to become Europe’s biggest peer-to-peer money transfer app.

It is likely to be aimed at clubs, societies and groups out at restaurants.

It means that if friends are sharing a bill, one person can be refunded by others on the spot through the system, which works by connecting the free app to a bank account or debit card.

The groups can be up to 20 people and users can pick and choose who to request or send money to. Money transferred can be lodged back to Irish bank accounts immediately and to European bank accounts within a day, according to the company.

The company claims that it is the only peer-to-peer payment app in Ireland that provides this group chat functionality globally and across currencies.

"This is the first time in history that people in Ireland, the UK and Europe can send money to the US, at no cost, with no foreign exchange markup, and have the funds received and available in the recipient's bank account almost instantly", said Jeremy Allaire, chief executive and co-founder at Circle.  "It's finally possible for money to work the way the internet works for content."

A new system of faster withdrawals are also being launched by Circle which allows users to transfer cash from Circle into a US bank account without a lag or fees.

“Other companies in the US that offer fast withdrawals are only domestically capable of this and charge for the benefit,” said Mr Allaire.

“Circle is the first and only cross-border payments platform in the world to make this possible for free.”

The startup, which has so far attracted €128m in funding from backers such as Goldman Sachs and IDG, regards Dublin as its global headquarters. Co-founders Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville are American and spend most of their time at the firm’s Boston office.

Previously attracting attention as a bitcoin-related company, Circle now used some of the related technology behind the cryptocurrency to build systems for transferring established currencies more cheaply than existing transfer systems are capable of.

Mr Allaire and Mr Neville say that they want their peer-to-peer service to become the Gmail of casual payments, letting people use their own currencies and bank accounts. Its main product works with Visa and Mastercard debit cards.

The company wants to bypass much of the existing middleman technology and bureaucracy associated with transfers in favour of new secure standards that are much more accessible.

Mr Allaire said that Circle is currently experiencing growth rates of 427pc in monthly active users.

“In Europe, there has been customer growth of more than 800pc year-over-year, and payments volume has grown by more than 700pc,” he said.

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