Circle’s Bitcoin Banking Platform is Savvy Bid for Mainstream Market

Pete Rizzo
Jul 21, 2014 at 15:40 UTC
Updated Mar 19, 2015 at 12:53 UTC

circle.com

Circle Internet Financial lifted the veil on its introductory product last week, providing CoinDesk with an extensive preview of what Circle.com will offer to the general market when it moves out of invite-only testing and past version one of its core offering.

The company revealed the first hints about what was to become Circle.com in March and, since then, it has been gradually ramping up development of its product while slowly expanding its pool of invited users.

First previewed at the Bitcoin2014 conference in Amsterdam this May, Circle largely delivers on its promise of providing a user-friendly digital money platform that delivers the kind of streamlined functionality many associate with traditional online payment tools like PayPal or Google Wallet.

Though questions about how Circle will expand and monetize this offering still remain, the company’s first product demonstrates that the bitcoin industry as a whole has only begun to tap the potential of the technology, and that such applications could indeed have a broad appeal in the US market.

Launched in 2013, Circle has raised $26m to date, with its most recent round of funding netting the company $17m from Oak Investment Partners, Pantera Capital and SecondMarket CEO Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Opportunity Corp.

Logging in

After entering their username and password, Circle automatically sends a verification code to the user’s smartphone. This two-factor authentication process can be bypassed by frequent users, as they have the option for the company to remember their computer for 30 days.

Alternatively, Circle customers can choose to use Google Authenticator, which generates the code via a smartpone app.

Once inside, users are greeted with a home screen that shows recent account activity and a message from Circle indicating that they now have $10 worth of BTC to spend. This balance is displayed at the top of the screen in both USD and BTC values.

circle

Transferring existing bitcoin

Below the activity section, users will see the option to “Transfer bitcoin to your circle account” or “Connect your bank account and credit cards to Circle”.

circle, bank account

Those who want to transfer existing bitcoin to Circle will be greeted with a QR code and a bitcoin address that will allow them to transfer funds to the account. Circle uses dynamic QR codes that change with every transfer.

“This prevents someone from spoofing your Circle account and intercepting payments,” the company’s website reads.

circle, recent activity

Circle also sends an email to the user, confirming the funds have been sent. CoinDesk tested a transfer from BTC-e to Circle and received the funds in under five minutes.

circle, email notification

Linking your accounts

Conversely, users can take advantage of the ‘Connect your bank account and credit cards to Circle’ option.

circle, connect account

To begin, users click ‘Connect Account’. Circle then takes users to a landing page before sending them through a three-step process that confirms the account.

circle, linked accounts

To add a bank account, users need to first enter their legal first and last names and their address, including the zip code, city and state. Users next verify their identity by providing their date of birth and social security number.

Credit card users must provide their card number, expiration date, billing address and security code, while bank account users need to provide their account name, routing number and account number.

In turn, bank account deposit limits are capped at $2,500, with withdrawals limited to $10,000 per week. Credit card deposits are likewise capped at $500 and withdrawals have a $1,000 per week ceiling.

“Across all of your Circle accounts there is a maximum amount that may be deposited and withdrawn in a given week. As you develop a transactional history with Circle, this limit may increase,” the website states.

Users can also withdraw bitcoin funds to their credit card in order to make payments.

Verifying linked bank accounts takes two to three business days, as users need to confirm that they first received two small deposits from Circle.

Accounts can also be quickly removed with the simple click of a button.

circle linked account

Advanced features

Circle users with linked accounts can also take advantage of advanced features such as its Link Handler, which can be used to make Circle the default payment method for any bitcoin payment link on the Internet.

The service’s ‘Multiple Accounts’ feature also lets users subdivide their bitcoin funds into different accounts that can be labeled for better money management.

circle, multiple accounts

Users can also change their two-factor authentication settings so that verification is required for the transaction of any amount or amounts over a certain value.

Disclaimer: Circle.com is still undergoing stress tests and changes could be made to the final product before launch. This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of the service mentioned. Please do your own extensive research before considering investing any funds in this, or any other, service.

Images via Circle

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