We Deserve A Better Bitcoin Experience Than Circle

I finally got around to trying out Circle today. Boy it’s bad. Particularly for a company that has raised $26 million.

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:

IMG_5168

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:

Screen_Shot_2015-02-17_at_7.10.04_PM-2

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?

6. Meanwhile my friend Nik Cubrilovic tried to send me Bitcoin through Circle and had his own terrible experience, which you can see here. Here’s the tl;dr of that experience:

6srpn7m

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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.25.29 PM

Overall, I rate Circle zero stars.

Update: Visa has now shut down the credit card I used with Circle. So mare hassle.

17 thoughts on “We Deserve A Better Bitcoin Experience Than Circle

  1. watwatwat says:

    The point of bitcoin is that you don’t have to rely on 3rd parties once you’re in btc.

    Using Circle, Coinbase or other 3rd parties as a wallet is foolish.

    • Jason says:

      Not everyone wants to buy BTC for cash in an alley and risk getting robbed/scammed, and not everyone is a programmer who can code multi-sig themselves.

  2. Hard to think of ways it could have sucked more.

    Similar troubles verifying my identity with BTCJam, and I’m an investor, not a borrower.

    I don’t have any really sweet high-tech stuff at the moment, so I still haven’t given them a “non-low-res” scan of my ID.

    Wish I could just get on silk road and buy a fake one for the fuckers. Whole reason I was doing it was that I don’t like having a low rating next to my name!

  3. Tim wells says:

    Have you tried Trucoin? I had a good experience.

  4. mark says:

    Your experience is common, not rare. I got no answer about why funding limits were so low and how it could be raised (coinbase has easy rules). The user experience is horrible as well – they try to blur the difference between fiat and crypto to ‘simplify’ things, resulting in notifications that you’ve deposited 1000, only to log in and see your balance is 930 (for example) due to bitcoin volatility.

    I too went through a similar sequence, tried to log in one day and saw ‘review needed’, without prior email notice – and a bizarre explanation that they had shut my account because:

    “Your account was closed because this account was used to sell bitcoin on Localbitcoins.com. This use of Circle is not allowed, as you need a money transmitter license for such activities. We can no longer offer you service.”

    This is untrue (I did no such thing), and incorrect (no license needed to sell bitcoins p2p). I emailed them repeatedly to ask them why they were accusing me of this, but got no reply. So my money is stuck there with no recourse. I can’t even log in to see my balance.

    stay away from circle.

  5. hello says:

    OMG, This is all I needed to know. Thanks a lot!

  6. Alurwen says:

    Circle is awful, have sent them verification pics three times and my account is still not operational. Well, after i sent the 2nd batch of selfie with ID pic they did activate my account just long enough for me to deposit $100 from my checking account. Great! or so i thought. When i went back in a week to transfer it out, my account had been locked and all banking info removed. I’m currently trying to deal with their version of customer service. They tell me that anyone over the age of 13 can receive and transfer funds…..but why is mine locked then? They have no answers and are scamming everyone. If they haven’t resolved this in 48 hours I’m going to contact my bank to see if there is anything they can do to forcefully withdraw this money back from Circle.

    On the other hand, Coinbase….no problems! AT ALL!!! I use it all the time and never a hiccup. So why can’t Circle do that?

  7. Eat me says:

    I agree they have texted me 25 SMS verification codes. I think their SMS server is overloaded. I can’t get into my account! Basstard!

  8. STAY AWAY FROM THAT POS CIRCLE APP.

    THEY ASK FOR TONS OF PERSONAL INFO THAT IS NOT NEEDED AT ALL. (PHOTOS & DRIVERS LICENSE).

    THEN AFTER YOU SIGN UP AND DO ALL THE SHIT THEY ASK – YOU ONLY GET A $100/WEEK LIMIT.

    WTF? AND THEY WONT RAISE YOUR LIMIT WHEN YOU ASK EVEN IF YOU HAVE BOUGHT $100 OF BTC A WEEK FOR 2 MONTHS.

    AND DONT YOU DARE SEND THE BTC YOU BUY FROM THEM TO LOCALBITCOINS.COM OR ELSE THEY’LL JUST DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT.

    WHY IS THAT EVEN A RULE?

    WHAT IF I TRUST LOCALBITCOINS WALLET MORE THAN CIRCLES WALLET??

    I ACTUALLY WOULDNT BE SURPRISED IF THIS CIRCLE APP IS A SCAM/FRAUD APP RAN BY THE FEDS (GATHERING ALL OF YOUR PERSONAL INFO AND THEN TRACKING WHERE YOU ARE SENDING BTC TO AND WHAT YOU ARE USING BTC FOR (INVESTING OR THE DEEP WEB MARKETPLACES)

    I WOULD ADVISE EVERYONE TO JUST USE LOCAL BITCOINS TO MAKE YOUR BTC PURCHASES. YES, YOU PAY MORE THAN THE CURRENT RATE BUT YOU DONT EVEN NEED TO ACTUALLY MEET UP WITH SOMEONE – THEY HAVE PEOPLE ON THERE FROM ALL OVER THE USA THAT CAN SELL YOU BTC THROUGH OTHER MEANS OF PAYMENT.

    JUST MAKE SURE YOU STAY AWAY FROM CIRCLE APP.

    AND IF ANYONE WHO WORKS FOR CIRCLE READS THIS:

    GO FUCK YOURSELVES.

  9. stephana says:

    Is that all? how about I have to contact them any time I need to change my card on file? This is frustrating.

  10. Loren says:

    Thank you soo much. I just wanted to try circle to buy bitcoins and I sow your post, you save my money. I just want to share with others DON’T EVER TRY TO USE BITODEX, I transfered them money over paypal, and I am robbed, just no money no bitcoins. I have been tried Virvox many times, and it is expensive, but it works every time. Does enyone know some other solution.

  11. su chow says:

    after over one month of waiting for my phone number to be updated circle suspended my account!! even after passing verification i have 6k usd locked!!

  12. Michael, I was recently doing some PR for a Tech firm who have raised 35million of funding to develop aps. They had launched an ap…. Anyway it was so bad. Everything about it was wrong and strange and just wrong. And you think ‘you had 35million and however many of the world’s supposed top brains and THIS is what you’ve come up with!’
    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to nominate myself as your new friendly stalker as I REALLY would like to talk to you for a book I am writing🙂 – about blogs!!

  13. Tom says:

    Circle works very hard and we should be grateful for it. The US is such an annoyance with anything like this so Circle has many regulatory guidelines it must adhere to. We should be a little more patient as they provide a nice service and do so for FREE. They make their money by other means, such as partnering with merchants. This means they have a high customer to staff ratio. Just be patient! They have to be very careful with raising limits because if they allow a money launderer to use their system they could risk losing the ability to transfer funds through ACH.

    No I do not work for Circle, I just have a little more Common Sense.

  14. ayesa says:

    I have been using circle with no problems for a couple months then suddenly i got an email saying that they are federally regulated and dont support any form of gambling. That was weird because i found them advertised on a gambling site who had a link directly from this casino! Thank God i had just withdrawn the last 150 in the account!

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