Curve, the London-based fintech that combines multiple cards and accounts into one smart card and an app, has secured a Series C funding round of $95 million. The financing was led by IDC Ventures, Fuel Venture Capital and Vulcan Capital (the investment arm of the estate of Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen), with participation from OneMain Financial, the U.S. personal finance company, and Novum Capital. Several previous investors also participated. The fundraise brings the total investment in Curve to almost $175 million. Curve says it plans to use the funds to expand internationally, including to the U.S., and to deepen its European reach. It will also be pushing its Curve Credit product.
The startup is now claiming 2 million customers and now covers Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay in 31 European markets. In December, Curve created a JV with Plaid to bring open banking to the U.K., allowing users to connect and see their bank accounts in one place. It also now has a subsidiary in Vilnius, Lithuania, in order to serve its EU-based following Brexit, and partnered with Samsung for its Pay Card.
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Its "Go Back in Time" feature, which can roll-back purchases 14 to 90 days, has come under fire for potentially allowing customers to fall into a debt spiral.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Shachar Bialick, founder and CEO of Curve, said: “We tried to remove the friction customers have at the checkout. For instance, you might be out and not have an internet connection, or you want to switch the card to be charged, so you can pay, and then later go back in time and change the accounts that were used. And then what transpired is that customers were using this feature because they wanted to free up cash in their checking account during COVID times. In March, many of our customers asked us to be able to ‘go back in time’ from the debit cards to their credit cards for transactions they've made in January and in December, 2019, and because they need to free more cash in their checking account.” He said it’s also led to a new product allowing customers to split payments into installments.
If that's the case, then Curve may be better able to weather the criticisms that have been leveled at companies like Klarna which potentially allow retail consumers to rack up debts.
Curve also came under fire this month for failing to file its accounts with Companies House in London. But Bialick said this oversight is not material to the running of the business: “We missed the filing and the reason for that is because we had a very tight fundraising and we have limited resources so we had to prioritize it over something else. But we're already in the process of submitting [the accounts] this week.”
Bobby Aitkenhead, the managing partner of IDC Ventures, said: “Curve’s pioneering approach to finance is more necessary than ever as we accelerate globally to a digital-first world.”
Rick Roberts, from Vulcan Capital, said: “Curve’s model is redefining the future of banking by bringing diverse financial products and solutions together into one digital wallet, for the benefit of banks and customers alike. Their friction-free offering is coming at the ideal time for American consumers, who are looking for safer payment options and greater financial control in the wake of the pandemic.”