Being from a finance and payments background, I still try to follow the latest products, tech and happenings across the industry - especially as, for a long time, banks and financial institutions have lived off past glories and been slow to innovate. While the industry began to realise this after the financial crisis, so did a number of entrepreneurs, and new apps and tools to help us get the most from our finances have been coming thick and fast ever since. Nowadays, barely a days goes by where I don't hear about the latest and greatest happenings in the world of "Fintech".
There are a number of solutions on the market to help manage users with multiple cards - debit, credit, corporate, gift, rewards - filling up their wallets, but somewhere (I don't remember specifically where) I heard a ringing endorsement of a new company in this field - Curve. As someone who ditched their wallet and wanted to go cashless a long time ago, but still has multiple bank cards (and with no Apple Pay in sight for Finland in the near future), I was intrigued. I reached out to Curve and they were kind enough to send me a card as part of their beta program.
After a few delays (not Curve's fault), I finally got my card. I have to admit, I was then quite slow (read: lazy) in adding my cards and getting it running, but I'm glad I eventually did!
Let's start with the arrival of the card.
I was fully expecting the card to arrive in the same manner as the cards from my banks arrive - stuck to a piece of pre-printed paper and stuffed in an envelope. Not here though. In the startup world, making an impression is important - and impressed I was when I received a sleek, black box, containing a disc in the shape of the Curve logo which housed my new card (along with a helpful wallet-sized card with support/contact details, as well as reminder to hide my card number when sharing online).
The setup process
This was a bit of a palaver for me, but the whole process has since been tweaked by Curve and more information/requirements are available up-front.
If you're in the UK, it's simple. Download the app, get your Curve card, activate and then add your cards.
Abroad, it's a bit different. When adding my cards I went through my own banks online verification process, but with Curve being based in the UK, they obviously have to comply with a number of Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. This meant I also had to email a copy of my ID (passport, ID card etc) and a utility bill with my address on. Not difficult, but an unexpected and additional thing to go through. Also, at the time, there was no indication of this requirement in the app - it just gave a generic error message. This has also now been improved upon in one of the recent app updates.
Add your card(s) is easy. Tap the '+' button, your camera will activated, take a snap of the card (or manually type the numbers in), add the CVV number from the back, job done (unless your bank requires additional authentication).
I added two debit cards and a credit card in the space of a couple of minutes. You can customise the in-app appearance of the cards so that they're easily recognisable when you come to switch between them.
Using the card /app
Once you've added all of your cards, you're good to go. Your first transaction must be via chip and PIN, but after that you can use any of the supported methods (Chip and PIN, swipe and contactless). After a week of use, I've only had one instance where it wouldn't work for some reason and the card wasn't recognised in the CaP machine (quite possibly the bars fault and not the card), but a quick swipe of the magstripe of it and it worked fine.
Your payment will default to whichever card is selected in the app, so should you wish to pay via a different card, just open the app, select the preferred card, close the app, and the Curve card will do the rest.
You're notified of each transaction through nice push notifications (which you could obviously turn off if you didn't want them), but I find it handy just to review what I've paid for, especially as most businesses here trade under different names to their 'official' business name, and to make sure I've not been mistakenly overcharged (which has happened before).
All transactions that take place via the Curve app are also handily logged within the app. You can add notes, tags, and images (such as receipts) to each so that you can easily sort and track your expenditures.
The card itself is managed through the app, with options to view your PIN and lock the card (should it be lost/stolen) right there. Your PIN will initially be generated and shown in the app, but you can then change it to one of your own choice from any cashpoint (ATM) that supports this feature (so don't expect to be able to do this in Finland!). You can also view your PIN at any point, and with iOS, you authenticate with TouchID.
Overall, I've been thoroughly impressed with the app and card. It's still technically in beta, so there are bound to be some areas to be tweaked (such as on-boarding, adding cards, authentication etc), but the app updates are coming thick and fast. There's also a great in-app support function which allows you send a message direct to Curve and then discuss directly with them - no need for emails, support tickets etc - although you can also email and call them if needed.
- No need to carry around numerous payment cards
- A clean and easy to use app with UI and UX improvements coming regularly
- Well designed with sleek packaging
- Instant push notifications of payments
- The ability to review purchases and add comments, tags and receipts
- Excellent (in-app) customer support and communications
- Customisation of cards would be nice (most banks now offer this with debit/credit cards)
- Ability to change the card PIN in-app (currently being worked on, I'm told)
- An easier on-boarding process and authentication of identity and cards (improved in recent app updates)
- Quick-switching between cards (3D Touch or Today widget) would be a great addition
- Currently the card is technically for those that are self-employed or freelancers (although I signed up as self-employed, I'm using the card as a private customer and have had no issues)
- Accepted anywhere that Mastercard is accepted
- Add as may payment cards as you wish
- Use the card abroad with low fees and with the ability to add cards of different currencies
- Added security as your original card details are never revealed to merchants
- Rewards that you collect (via referrals) are collected in-app and can be spent anywhere that accepts Mastercard
- Available on iOS and Android
- A new card is sent out every 3 years (free of charge)
If you're interested in the Curve card, head over to their website for all the info and links to download the app and order. If/when you order, feel free to use the code QMHYK.