Consumers in the UK have an average of 2.45 payment cards, as well as any number of additional store and loyalty cards. With so many cards available and their usage expected to increase in the future (GlobalData forecasts that over 220 transactions will be made per debit card at the point of sale in 2020), it will become even more difficult for consumers to keep track of their finances.
London-based fintech Curve is aiming to address this. Following a successful beta, Curve has officially launched its smart payment card, which is linked to an app that allows users to load their Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards. The cards can then be managed from the app, which also provides instant electronic receipts and other financial management tools that will help users with their expenses, budgeting, and savings.
The app is free to download on both iOS and Android. The standard card is free to purchase and does not require a current account or credit check. A premium version is also available to purchase for £50, which offers additional benefits such as double reward points. By using the Curve card consumers can earn cashback and rewards at various retailers. The product’s most innovative feature is the ability for users to go “back in time” and change the card that was used for a purchase after it was made.
The new regulatory regime brought about by PSD2 is an advantage for Curve. Now that banks are required to let third-party apps access customers’ transaction data and make payments on their behalf, products like Curve are much easier to bring to market without requiring extensive partnership deals.
Those who took part in Curve’s beta phase appear to have been impressed. The product has a five-star rating on Trustpilot, and the waiting list is already 50,000 strong. However, it remains uncertain when the product will be shipped for those waiting and whether they will be able to meet demand given there is no cost for the user (although there is a wholesale charge rate for Mastercard).
There are also cautionary tales Curve must be aware of. At the beginning of 2017, smart payment card company Coin announced it was ceasing operations. Similar to Curve, the company offered a device that stored multiple cards, which the user could then change through a button on the device.
However, its much-delayed product launch was plagued with bugs, and ultimately it failed to live up to its potential. Curve’s long-term future will depend on its ability to overcome similar issues while addressing the high implementation costs and niche market appeal of its offering. Whether it can succeed remains to be seen.