Curve, the London-based fintech that lets you combine all your bank cards into one, has reached the milestone of over 300,000 cardholders, its CEO and founder Shachar Bialick exclusively told Forbes.
“You don’t see this kind of growth unless you’re solving a real problem and people really get the message,” said Bialick, who is reportedly in the process of raising a $50 million series B round for Curve.
The “message” of the company is that we’re all carrying around too many cards. According to Curve’s research the average person in the U.K. carried 3.6+ cards in 2016, while in the U.S. that figure is closer to 7.5 cards.
“And we’re seeing even more specialized cards in the market now, from Monzo, N26, Revolut, Klarna, Venmo, Square. So the number of cards in the market is only accelerating and the fragmentation will accelerate too.”
Curve’s 300,000 customers places its growth slightly ahead of Starling Bank, which last reported having 210,000 accounts, albeit with Curve not trying to be a bank.
Instead the way it works by adding all your existing bank cards into the Curve app, and then paying with your one Curve card which can be transformed into any card with the tap of an app.
Curve also has clever features, like letting you switch a payment card up to 14 days after a purchase was made, or offering zero fees when paying abroad regardless of which card you’re using.
Next, the company is planning on adding even more payment magic, by letting you turn payments into monthly payment plans, effectively offering you a loan to cover larger payments.
There’s just one problem.
“This product is complicated,” Bialick admits. “It’s not one that right now you can go and advertise to bring users in. The early adopter can get it, but can the majority get it, can my mum get it? Probably not.”
“Does that matter right now? No.”
Indeed, as someone who’s tried a Curve card several times over the past few years, it’s certainly a cognitive leap to rethink our multi-card lives around a product like Curve, a leap I haven’t yet managed to make.
Another challenge has been Curve’s on-again/off-again relationship with American Express.
Back in 2016 when Curve soft-launched for business-owners only, being able to add an AmEx card and then use it anywhere, even in shops that didn’t accept AmEx, all while still collecting points, was a key selling point.
The advantage only lasted for a few weeks before American Express blocked Curve’s ability to add its cards.
Two years later Curve has managed to resolve its differences with AmEx and last month said 1,000 beta-testers had been given the ability to re-add their cards (albeit with restrictions around the amount of spending and the ability to withdraw cash).
Despite all the confusion, Curve’s growth remains impressive. Bialick says the company has been growing its user base by around 40% each month with a group of 100,000 cardholders now spending £1,500 per month on average.
Next on the founder’s roadmap? International expansion.
“By the end of next year we want to be in the U.S. operationally on the ground to start preparing the product for that market,” Bialick says with certainty.
For the start of 2019 Curve plans to ramp up marketing in European countries where it has existing customers like France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and Poland.
Whether the company can figure out how to simplify Curve’s myriad of features for a mainstream audience, let alone Bialick’s mum, is less certain.
“It’s really like selling a car while everyone’s riding horses,” the entrepreneur concludes.
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