This is a space we’re interested in at CrunchFund, and are looking for who might be the breakout winners.
Circle is supposed to be a dead simple Bitcoin wallet and money transfer service. But here’s my experience:
1. I created an account and tried to add my bank account and credit card to deposit money into the system (as Bitcoin). I had to give a lot of personal information. And I had to take a photo of my drivers license. And then I had to take a selfie.
2. I don’t have a huge problem with that since these kinds of services are a huge fraud magnet. But Circle said they needed time to review the information. and here’s the problem, they basically (kind of) shut down my account while they were doing that.
3. This is a bad idea. Why? Because they didn’t actually tell me they were suspending my account. A helpful feature showed me how to receive Bitcoin and so I copied the wallet address and sent myself a Bitcoin from another wallet. I thought, hey, I can still use the service while they figure out my banking situation.
4. The Bitcoin transfer went through and was confirmed in the blockchain. But over at Circle I showed no pending transactions and no confirmed transactions…for hours. No messages that my account was suspended, or why fraud prevention would require them to accept a bitcoin transfer to the address they supplied me but not to tell me about it, even as pending.
5. Then things got weird. When I logged into the mobile app (remember, after I had a confirmed Bitcoin transaction) I saw this:
No sign of the Bitcoin received, either pending or confirmed. But also no suggestion that the account is suspended.
So I logged in from my laptop. And I see this:
Circle actually kicked me out completely with the message “Additional Review Needed”.
But what about that Bitcoin I transferred to the account? It’s clear from the message above that something is very wrong with my account, but that Bitcoin is gone? Where is that Bitcoin? Maybe they shouldn’t have supplied me with a wallet address before they knew if they wanted me as a customer?
On the upside Circle wouldn’t let him transfer money into the black hole that is my account. But it was certainly an awful user experience, and an unnecessary one. Just because my selfie wasn’t well lighted enough isn’t a good reason to stop a bitcoin-bitcoin transaction. The account verification stuff is to stop me from moving $ into their network fraudulently, which isn’t happening here.
7. So I go to dinner. Two hours and a bit of Twitter bitching later my account has been un-suspended and I can add my credit card to purchase my weekly limit of $100 worth of Bitcoin. So I do that, and make the purchase. And then I get this:
Overall, I rate Circle zero stars.
Update: Visa has now shut down the credit card I used with Circle. So mare hassle.