Curve adds consumer benefits to tackle the tough all-in-one card market

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All-in-one cards often fail, but Curve's attempt to change that narrative includes a premium card with enhanced user benefits.

Curve announced its Metal premium service on Tuesday, combining an all-in-one card with cash back, airport benefits, merchant partnerships and insurance and other consumer enticements.

Last year Curve debuted its all-in-one smart card and mobile app to U.K. customers, positioning itself as a product that fills a usage gap resulting from underperforming mobile wallets. Curve allows customers to load multiple debit and credit cards into a mobile wallet which is accessed through a physical Mastercard Curve smart card. When customers use their Curve card at point of sale, the purchase will be applied to one of the selected cards residing in the wallet.

Curve claims it has signed up 250,000 customers who have spent over £500 million (about US$ 650 million) to date. The company initially offered two different Mastercards: the Blue Curve, which is free, and Black Curve, which comes with more rewards and insurance costs £9.99 per month (about US$ 13).

The Curve Metal collections adds three new colors, along with more benefits: Rose Gold, Blue Steel and a limited-edition Red. The metal cards cost £14.99 per month (about US$ 19.50) or £150 (about US$ 195) if paid annually. The Curve Metal cards are limited to 10,000 in its first issuance batch, making it somewhat exclusive.

The additions comes as Amex says it has discontinued a pilot with Curve. "We participated in a limited Curve beta test where we enabled a small number of Card Members to load funds onto an e-wallet using their Amex card in the Curve app. Following this beta test we decided not to participate in the further roll out of the Curve e-wallet. We made Curve aware of this decision," said Melanie Backs, vice president of corporate affairs at American Express in an email.

Curve reportedly had been trialing Amex cards with its platform in closed beta testing since November. During the beta testing, at least 500 Curve users spent more than £1 million (about US$ 1.3 million) on their Amex cards by paying with Curve. Curve's Tuesday announcement mentioned it has updated its commercial model and worked with legal and compliance advisers to create a product that is fully in line with European regulations to support Amex's pilot. Curve did not return a request for comment for this story.

The Curve wallet's features include the ability to go “back in time,” which allows a user to change the payment card that was used for a prior purchase to another card. This helps consumers who accidentally used the wrong card when making a purchase.

Curve is one of many startups that have approached the all-in-one-card concept. A U.S. competitor to Curve, Edge Mobile Payments, is attempting to build out the concept by adding features such as a bank account, which the Curve card does not offer.

Dynamics, another U.S.-based startup recently announced a three-in-one card with an Indian bank partner, IndusInd Bank, which allows consumers to choose from three different funding choices when making purchases: reward points, revolving credit and installment points. However, this card only allows IndusInd Bank accounts, while Curve and Edge allow competitive cards in their wallets.

According to Crunchbase, a website that tracks investments in private fintech startups, Curve has raised $12 million in four fundraising rounds since 2015. Santander Group’s global venture capital fund, Santander InnoVentures, invested in Curve during its 2017 Series A fundraising round.

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