Earlier this month, UK-based SplitBill launched as the first bill sharing application that uses open banking to instantly and securely settle transactions within an all-in-one payment platform, completely free of charge.
It debuted to take advantage of the currently booming open banking service with features such ‘I Owe You’s’, and the ability to split bills at the touch of a button. One plus point is that the app can be registered with all major banks across the UK, including Barclays, HSBC, and Nationwide, as well as fintech providers, such as Revolut, Monzo and Starling. It means that transactions can be sent instantly as well as securely.
However, the app, founded by entrepreneur Ronald Javier Baddouh Abbate, sounds surprisingly similar to another well-known sharing company, Splitwise. So how are the two different from each other? Abbate explains…
The name sounds similar, is it the same company?
No, it’s not the same company. ‘SplitBill it’s what friends do’, is a registered trademark and an asset to explaining our offering in very simple terms. We wanted to use the name “SplitBill” within our trademark because it is clearly evocative and expresses literally, and in a simple way, the concept underlying our app: to split the bill.
Splitwise clearly subscribes to the same thought process in name selection – but the similarity between the names is purely coincidental.
What’s the difference in layout and functionality?
Put simply, the functional difference between SplitBill and Splitwise is that the latter is more of a bookkeeping solution, it allows friends to manually document and keeps track of ‘I owe you’s’ and payment breakdowns by keeping track of who should pay next, or settle up by recording cash payments.
In some territories, namely the US and India, Splitwise does offer a payback function by using an integrated system with Paypal and/or PayTM, although this is not the case in the UK and elsewhere.
SplitBill, on the other hand, allows friends and users to make instant payments directly through the app. We deem our brand of ‘bill-sharing’ technology as a streaming payments solution – it takes all of the manual efforts out of shared payments between friends, by letting the application do the work in processing transactions and payments instantly. Essentially, as soon as an expense or bill arrives, all the users are required to do is input your own preliminary data (including bank account number and sort code), and request or send funds (as the case may be) with the push of a button. SplitBill doesn’t even require users to collect their friend’s banking details for this process to work.
SplitBill works using a HOST and FRIENDS function, meaning the Host is the user who creates a group of friends and contact for any bill or expense sharing situation and then sends the requests to the friends for collecting a requested amount. Each friend will receive, in real-time, the Host request and, by accepting this request, shall payback and instantly settle their agreed share of the bill directly from their bank account.
Therefore, one of the main differences between SplitBill and Splitwise, is that by providing instant payback transactions amongst friends, SplitBill promotes cashless solutions in compliance with the global best practices of the payments solution sector. This is particularly important now, in the current climate, where cash use should ideally be kept to a minimum in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Finally, SplitBill is free to download and all of its services are completely free, whereas Splitwise has a paid-for premium function which includes additional services and removes ads. Also, in India and the US, where the use of an integrated pay back system is offered by Splitwise, a fee on the transaction applies – this is not the case for SplitBill.
When it comes to the layout, SplitBill has the aesthetic of a social media app – we allocate our brand of technology as more of a social platform, as it brings friends together by cutting the stress out of shared payments in an All in One Mobile App.
Splitwise, on the other hand, has the layout of a more information-based financial documentation app. This is not to say one function or layout is better than the other, both apps serve their own self-contained purpose: Splitwise for keeping a document of who-owes-who, what, and SplitBill is an instant, social, payment streaming app, which takes care of bills and expenses as they arrive.
Do my friends also have to download the app?
Yes, they need to have the app. Once they have download it (for free on the IOS and Android app store), their details and friend’s details can be directly and securely shared within the app in a very secure way: all the data are encrypted. It also integrates with your phone’s contacts, taking the stress out of taking down payment and personal details.
How does it integrate with my bank?
Through open banking. Without going into too much detail, open banking is a financial technology that allows third-party applications, such as SplitBill, to securely obtain financial information such as payment details from your bank. It is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (and all European equivalents) and is completely secure.
It essentially means SplitBill allows its users to safely access their bank account protected by SCA (strong customer authentication), and make instant transactions between users’ bank accounts directly through the app when prompted.
SplitBill is currently in partnership with TrueLayer, which gives us access to 18 major banks and financial services providers in the UK. These include high street banks, such as HSBC, Nationwide, Lloyds, Halifax and more, as well as modern-day FinTechs such as Starling, Monzo and Revolut.
What do you see for the future of SplitBill?
In the near future, we will be expanding into European markets. In fact, we have plans to do so by Q4 of 2020. Beyond this, we plan to develop an SDK (Software Development Kit) and target the B2C market of hospitality, retail and food and drink services, so that SplitBill can become fully integrated with existing apps, e-commerce, and ‘offline’ stores – becoming a default streaming payment service. We plan to tackle this market with a highly competitive processing fee.
SplitBill tackles a key social problem that has remained unresolved for far too long. The app uses cutting edge financial technology to enable instant and secure group payments as and when a bill arrives. Open banking is the future of financial technology, and SplitBill has bought personal book-keeping solutions to the future by adapting how and when friends settle bills with this new social, streaming payment solution.