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This article was published on February 21, 2013

BillPin is a handy app to split bills between friends and keep track of who owes what

BillPin is a handy app to split bills between friends and keep track of who owes what
Jon Russell
Story by

Jon Russell

Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.

If you’re someone who is constantly trying to remember which friends you owe money to, and who owes you cash too, or get confused when splitting the tab with pals, then newly launched BillPin is a service you’ll be keen on getting to know.

Aimed primarily at life’s social butterfly, those who regularly rack up bills eating out or socializing with pals, or perhaps share accommodation with others, the iOS and Android apps make it easy to keep track of cashflow and money shared between friends.

Photo 2013-02-20 02.15-horz

Co-founder Darius Cheung — a second time founder after Web security giant McAfee bought his first company in 2010 — explains more:

This really helps forgetful people (like me) so I can stop forgetting to pay my friends back or who to collect money from for the dozen movie tickets I bought for the group. Plus, this way you don’t have to deal with change for the small things, and can free your mind to do more important things.

Likewise, the issue of money can be difficult for friendships. Speaking personally, I can think of a few people I know who would prefer to manage their credit and debit via an app, rather than face-to-face discussions.

BillPin is free and easy to use. The app syncs a device’s address book and uses Facebook to discover friends and tag them into bills, even if they haven’t downloaded the app. That’s a pretty key feature to its use, and it also helps the service gain traction among peer groups.

The front page of the app shows the ongoing tally of money a user is owed by friends, and the amount that they owe others, with a specific breakdown of the cost recent items loaded. Clicking on an individual bill pulls up its details — including friends that are tagged, total cost, location (if available) and more.

Cheung tells TNW that he’s back in the trenches building a new company because he believes that the app is addressing a real pain point — making transfer between friends “frictionless” — while the process of being a founder is an addiction he just can’t kick.

He calls the multi-million dollar exit for tenCube, his mobile security startup, “modest”, explaining that he has a desire to make a bigger impact by solving new problems.

It’s like we just started to learn to drive [with tenCube], now we are aiming to take part in Formula One [with BillPin], but we’re still a couple of classes away.

Bootstrapped to date —  barring an entrepreneurial grant from the Singaporean government — Cheung has been in the US, where he’s network with the VC community, finding them more interested in Southeast Asia than ever before. His past experiences of trying to raise funds, which were ultimately unsuccessful in North America, have helped him reaching out to possible BillPin backers, but he is also noticing a more pronounced interest in Singapore and Southeast Asia as a whole.

The startup world used to be Silicon Valley-focused, but Southeast Asia is a more mature market today, particularly as BRIC countries are showing less growth. Though Southeast Asia is developing fast, I don’t think US investors are yet budgeting money [for investment deals] but they are certainly keeping close watch on the region.

Cheung puts that down to a number of reasons — including the emergence of Singapore-based VCs with strong US connections and AngelList.

While not soliciting investment right now, Cheung says he is “open” to the idea of joining an accelerator, after being impressed by 500 Startups’ recent Demo Day. For now, the immediate focus is on gaining initial traction with users and developing the service to make money transfers between individuals more seamless.

The team is yet to introduce monetization mechanisms and, while Cheung is playing his cards close to his chest, we can think of a couple of features that could be explored. For example, the option to make payments to friends from directly inside the app would be a welcome addition for users, and have the potential to bring revenue in too.

I’ve been busy charging up expenses for my TNW colleagues to develop the gallery of screenshots below; but you can check out the app for yourself at these links.

➤ BillPin: iOS | Android

Headline image via AntonioDiaz / Shutterstock

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