Circle Brings Blockchain Payments to iMessage With iOS 10 Update

Blockchain payments firm Circle has integrated with Apple iMessage as part of its iOS 10 update.

AccessTimeIconSep 13, 2016 at 1:08 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 10, 2024 at 2:59 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Blockchain payments firm Circle has integrated with Apple's iMessage, a move that allows users to send payments in dollars, euro, pound sterling and bitcoin through the popular texting platform.


executives said the launch marks the end of preparations that began in June, when Apple announced it would open up iMessage to third-party developers.

"We decided to jump on it," Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire said in an interview. "We had been planning to build out a model for app-less payments using Circle that would work in all the places people communicate and interact."

The confirmation came days after social media leaks and Asia-based media reports hinted that Circle would soon make an announcement.

Allaire and fellow Circle co-founder Sean Neville indicated that making payments available on the "most used app in the world" would help it better navigate the larger transition to becoming a payment platform that not only leverages the bitcoin blockchain, but that could compete against more established payment apps.

Allaire told CoinDesk:

"This is going to be a big part of the future, it’s all tied into the how do we make money work, the way the Internet works. We talk about photos and content and the way we do that is through social messaging, that is the core medium of the Internet for a lot of people."

As a result of the integration, Circle users who have installed the application will be able to access Circle from new icons built into iMessage. Users who don't have Circle installed will also have the option to tap to receive money.

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 3.44.03 PM
Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 3.44.03 PM

According to Neville, the payments are instant on the Circle platform, but consumers could still wait days to receive the money in a bank account.

"If you use the app today, if you hold dollars and you sent me euros, I immediately have euros and I can send those euros elsewhere or to non-Circle customers. If I want to cash out into checking account, I'm still subject to my bank," he continued.

The announcements comes a time when Apple’s stance on blockchain and digital currencies remains opaque, as evidenced by a number of recent app store take-downs.

In past weeks, digital currency-focused apps by firms including ShapeShift and Jaxx have reported pressure to remove support for certain currencies.

Android compatibility

In statements, Allaire and Neville also used the announcement to hint at the benefits of technology standards, in this case, the short message service (SMS), which has long served as the platform for mobile communication.

As a result of iMessage's use of this underlying technology, Allaire and Neville said that Android users will be able to receive payment requests via the integration, even if the process has a different user experience.

"One of the things that’s really cool about using iMessage as the container is it's an SMS app, so it allows you to send the messages to any contact that uses any SMS compatible device," Allaire said.

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 3.50.44 PM
Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 3.50.44 PM

Allaire and Neville said they see the opening of the iMessage platform as a step by Apple to rival what companies such as Tencent and Alipay have done successfully in China.

Elsewhere, iMessage users can expand the app to full-screen mode, Allaire said, to access and set their preferred funding sources for payments, whether it’s US dollars, bitcoins or pounds, all with low costs.

Allaire emphasized that even on iMessage its policies toward monetizing its platform will remain the same, adding:

"We believe holding and sending data should be free, we don’t charge."

Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Circle.

iPhone image via Shutterstock; Circle photos via Circle


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.