Out of all the problems that friends run into, money is one of the stickiest. There’s nothing that can degrade a relationship in quite the same way as an argument over rent, a restaurant bill, or even who owes how much for a pack of toilet paper. BillPin, a new app that launches today, wants to make it easy to split social expenses–its slogan is even “keep friendships squabble free.” It is available online, and for iOS and Android devices.
“We believe the real value is in helping users keep track of money socially, and our design philosophy is very much centered around how to help users easily and quickly keep a tab with their friends whom they have frequent shared expenses with,” co-founder Darius Cheung told me.
The app sets itself apart with its clean, intuitive interface and a keep-it-simple mentality.
“For example, through user interviews and data analysis, we figured out that 90 percent of the bills that any user would ‘pin’ is with one of his top 10 friends. As a result, instead of making a user search though his phone book or Facebook for the friend to add to a bill, we have designed in a quick-add feature so the user can simply click on a friend’s profile and add a bill, reducing the time and effort required dramatically,” Cheung said.
To use the app, you can sign up using email or Facebook, and find your buddies through your contacts. One of you pins an expense and chooses how to split it. The app will then keep each person informed by email of the amount as it is paid off. BillPin includes several features designed to keep the process of sharing expenses conflict free–for example, if a bill does not divide evenly (for example, $10 split among three friends), it will randomly assign the leftover amount to one person. Bills can be voided if there is an error or disagreement, but they cannot be deleted entirely, so there is always a record of past expenses in the app.
The app’s founders–Cheung, Saurabh Mandar, Aileen Sim, Ruiwen Chua, and Anuj Bheda–met each other in the National University of Singapore Overseas College program. Cheung and co-founder Mandar worked together at tenCube, a mobile security company that was acquired by McAfee in 2010; Sim ran FirstMeta, a virtual currency exchange company; and Chua was founder of educational app startup SquareCrumbs. BillPin is currently mostly self-funded, though the team has received funding from the Interactive Digital Media program.