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Curve bids to bridge the gap between cards and mobile payments

17 February 2016  |  13791 views  |  9 Curve app

Curve, a London-based startup that aims to bridge the gap between card-based and mobile payments by replacing multiple cards with a single piece of plastic and a mobile app, has launched with support from a group of notable fintech investors, including Taavet Hinrikus of TransferWise and Ricky Knox of challenger bank Tandem.

Similar to Coin in the US, Curve allows people to combine an unlimited number of bank cards into one physical payment card, supported by a mobile app that gives users a consolidated view of their payments. Bundled services include the ability to see all transactions in one place, access to low foreign currency rates with no fees, and using Amex at places it isn’t accepted.

Built on the MasterCard Network, the Curve card supports Chip and Pin, magstripe and contactless technology. Users scan their cards into the app, which syncs them with the Curve card. The Curve app can be used to switch between cards with a single swipe and displays every transaction made, with a running total across each month.



‘With Curve you have one card and see every single transaction in one screen. We’re not another new bank or extra service to deal with, we transform your existing fragmented financial world into somewhere crystal clear, designed for the user,” says Shachar Bialick, CEO and co-founder of Curve. “Mobile payments have the potential to bring similar benefits, but cards work everywhere and people are used to them. So we’ve created the best of both worlds - all the benefits of mobile payments via a ground-breaking card.”

Initially launched for iOS only, Curve is shipping a limited run of 10,000 Curve cards to small business users, with an introductory price of £35.

The soft launch comes two months after the firms secured a $2 million seed investment from from investors such as Taavet Hinrikus of TransferWise, Ricky Knox of Tandem challenger bank and VC investment from Speedinvest, Seedcamp, Kima Ventures and the Mayor of London.

"The concept of payments as we know it is on the brink of being shaken up in a meaningful way,” says Taavet Hinrikus, CEO and co-founder of Transferwise and investor in Curve. “Today, Curve makes the first step at being the company to finally make this significant change in impacting how people pay for goods and services.”

Comments: (9)

Rik Coeckelbergs
Rik Coeckelbergs - bpost bank - Brussel | 17 February, 2016, 10:30

Cannot wait to have this in EUR

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Adam Nybäck
Adam Nybäck - Anyro - Stockholm | 17 February, 2016, 11:02

I find it hard to believe that this works with chip. If it does work, we should be really worried about the new wave of skimming coming in the near future.

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George Pace
George Pace - GPO Consulting Ltd - Headcorn | 17 February, 2016, 11:29

Its a MasterCard card...I've already got 3 why would I want another? Not sure how the Amex bit works as its a MCW transaction, through the MCW network debited against my new Curve card; but I chose AMEX as my choice of card to settle the transaction with the Curve card; so I can only assume Curve is then a Merchant and debits my AMEX card to settle the MCW transaction. But as this in not a retail purchase then it's quasi cash and attracts charges... or did I miss something?

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Rik Coeckelbergs
Rik Coeckelbergs - bpost bank - Brussel | 17 February, 2016, 12:09

Looks like I can waitgiven those cases...

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 17 February, 2016, 12:41

I've no idea how this can make any money (in a similar way to the Travelex supercard) - they will be getting the interchange from the merchant but then they will be charged interchange when they charge through the transaction to the original card issuer.

In the case of Amex there will always be a differential (a loss for them) which I can't imagine the £35 would go on covering forever.  If they allow ATM withdrawals then it will be even worse.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 17 February, 2016, 14:09

Lots of interesting buzzwords like tokenisation, but this can only be settled through CNP - i.e., Card Number in the backend via photo of the card. Real PAN (/token/) on the curve card; spend in store, the backend curve system takes the money from your card on file as CNP. Just like Google Pay when it started

As above, how are they monetising this?

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 18 February, 2016, 15:12

An interesting question is what interchange rate merchant pays. Is it (a) MC interchange rate set for this card, or (b) interchange rate of the card in the wallet used for this transaction?

If (a), Curve may have a loss. Lets assume that Visa debit card is in the wallet. If Visa assesses CNP interchange, it will be 10p + 0.20% instead of 1p + 0.20%.

If (b), the merchant will pay 10p more per transaction (2% more for GBP 5 purchase).

 

If yes, which one? This is chip-and-PIN card present (CP) transaction, so it should be low.  In that case 

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 18 February, 2016, 15:14

Or (as had been pointed out in other circles) they are probably classing this as a commercial card (hence only available to small business for now) which means they can avoid the interchange cap and therefore make the economics a bit better.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 18 February, 2016, 15:35

I missed that - just looked at their Ts&Cs. It for business only. So, the merchant will pay higher MC prepaid commercial interchange and thus provide the spread for Curve.

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