UK-based remittance and payment service provider Circle was harshly criticized by several online bitcoin communities after it was revealed that the company added over 55 fake five-star reviews to increase the ratings of its mobile applications.
In early December, Circle officially announced the termination of its bitcoin trading services, leaving behind millions of active users worldwide. The majority of its user base relied on Circle to purchase and sell bitcoin with ease, without running in conflict with regulatory issues.
In fact, in mid-June, Circle raised US$60 million from prominent investment firms, technology corporations and banks including Baidu, IDG Capital and Breyer to penetrate the Chinese bitcoin market with its bitcoin money transmission and trading facilitation service.
The launch of Circle China was highly anticipated by the bitcoin community, especially by users in China, who were excited to utilize Circle to send and receive money using bitcoin.
However, when Circle announced the termination of its bitcoin trading service by pivoting to a blockchain-based platform, an increasing number of users began to migrate from Circle to other existing trading platforms and bitcoin payment service providers.
Users Leave Circle After Bitcoin Service Termination
The unexpected exit of users from the Circle platform led to controversial reviews on mobile app stores, specifically on the Apple App Store, which left Circle and its mobile applications deployed on both the Apple App Store and Google Play store with low ratings and terrible 1-star reviews.
In response, the Circle development team added more than 55 fake five-star reviews to boost the rating of its application on the Apple App Store, adding various reviews with an obvious promotional tone.
One of the company’s fake reviews read:
“Circle makes sending money so quick, so easy, so fun. My friends and I use it all the time to split dinner bills and whatnot. It’s all private-no weird public feed of everyone else’s payments. Awesome.”
Members of bitcoin communities and former users of Circle went as far as submitting official complaint letters to the Apple App Store administrative team, citing serious breach of the Apple App Store Review Guidelines.
Serious Breach of Apple App Store Guidelines
In section 3 of the Apple App Store Review guidelines entitled “Business,” Apple clearly states:
“If we find that you have attempted to manipulate reviews, inflate your chart rankings with paid, incentivized, filtered, or fake feedback, or engage with third party services to do so on your behalf, we will take steps to preserve the integrity of the App Store, which may include expelling you from the Developer Program.”
It is highly likely that the Apple App Store administrative team will look into the concerns and complaints of bitcoin users in regards to Circle’s misconduct.`
More importantly, the controversial activities of Circle also demonstrate the demand for bitcoin, instead of its blockchain-based digital exchange called Spark. While it is still difficult to speculate the short-term performance of Circle as a venture capital-backed businesses, based on the discussions held within bitcoin communities, it is quite evident that the demand for bitcoin is higher than ever before.
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