Curve goes 'Back to the Future' to fix card choices

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Discovering that business owners occasionally use the wrong credit card to make a purchase, Curve is allowing users of its all-in-one card technology to go "back in time" to choose the right card.

At first blush, the "Back in Time" one-tap feature on the Curve mobile app seems like a feature without a pressing issue to resolve. But because the Curve credit card, and its accompanying app, operates on the premise that all cards a user holds can be used through one plastic card and monitored through the app, the chances of choosing a wrong card for a payment increases.

"The idea actually came from a Curve customer, because we wondered ourselves why someone would feel they chose a wrong card," said Callum McCaig, spokesperson for London-based Curve.
After more than 30 hours of interviews with Curve customers, who are generally business owners using the card for business purposes, the company had a much better feel for their financial pain points, and using the wrong card in certain situations "was actually quite high on the list," McCaig said.

The ability to change the card used for a transaction within two weeks after the purchase with no explanation to banks or fees attached would come in handy for those who used a business card by mistake for a personal purchase, or vice versa.

"Instead of waiting until the end of the month and spending hours on the phone to banks or credit card companies, Curve users will be able to change it instantly with one tap on their phone," McCaig added.

Other instances in which "Back in Time" would come into play would include business owners realizing they could secure a better deal on a product with a specific card, or realizing a certain transaction on a credit card put them "in the red" on that card, or into an overdraft situation with the bank.

"Being able to instantly switch to another card should be very helpful for that," McCaig said.

Curve says its product is available in the U.K. and Europe. It has issued more than 50,000 cards to business owners who used them for more than £50 million in payments in more than 100 countries during a beta phase of the technology.

Curve users upload their debit and credit cards into the app, and spend through all of them on a Curve Mastercard.

"Being built on the Mastercard network has been hugely beneficial for us," McCaig said. "It has meant we could offer a reliable, secure product to users in Europe that works almost anywhere in the world with no limitations."

The concept of numerous card accounts operating through one plastic card is not new. But staying power has been elusive for some. Earlier this year, Plastc, a "smart card" designed to hold numerous accounts, shut down after some earlier investments.

Others, like Stratos, had to turn to investors on more than one occasion for a lifeline.

Curve feels it is in a strong position to continue growth, preparing to announce a closing Series A funding round and the launching of a full consumer product this year.

The company says it has already raised $5 million while serving its current target audience of self-employed entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners.

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Payment cards Mobile technology Mastercard U.K.