Circle rounds on rivals with free cross-border payments
Payments services provider Circle is offering its customers in the US, UK and Europe the ability to send and receive money across borders with no fees and no mark-up on foreign exchange (FX) rates.
The firm says it is “just like sending email or sharing photos” – meaning it’s “free and instant”. There will be no fees or FX mark-ups on payments sent to or from the US, UK or more than a dozen European countries. Payments can be sent between US dollars, British pound sterling or euros and the company says there are no fees at all and zero FX mark-up on exchange rates if sent using Circle.
The firm (sort of) explains how it can make this free. It points to Spark, its open source project built on Ethereum for digital wallets. It can run on private and public Ethereum blockchains, while being designed for compatibility with other distributed ledger technologies and runtimes. It hasn’t released the open source code for Spark yet, but it is working with unnamed “consumer internet and consumer fintech companies” on implementing Spark at an unspecified date.
In a duet, Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville, co-founders of Circle, say: “We don’t believe there is a revenue model for domestic or cross border consumer payments, and we are not trying to generate any revenue from those payments. Just as the internet entirely commoditised information sharing, data sharing and communications, we are on the cusp of that commoditisation happening in consumer payments.”
Circle is officially launched in the US, UK, Spain and Ireland and is also available in early access release in 15 other markets (Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Austria, Portugal, Poland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Croatia, Liechtenstein).
It has also introduced a range of product updates. These include receiving payments into bank accounts in the UK via Faster Payments to UK bank accounts; same day withdrawals into most European bank accounts via SEPA withdrawal; sign up and use Circle using a Facebook account; and enabling Touch ID on iOS for authorising payments and transactions.
At Banking Technology’s 2016 awards show in London, Circle won “Top Digital Innovation” in the judged awards section.