Latest Plastc News
Jan 19, 2018
There have been a lot of smart card products announced over the last few years — Plastc, Coin, Stratos — that have generated a lot of buzz, but haven’t really had much success taking hold. Plastc blew up on launch and went under with $9 million worth of preorders unfilled. Coin did a little better: It managed to get cards into customers’ hands, but its product disappeared when it was acquired by Fitbit. But Curve , which is getting its first full product launch in London this week, is different from what has come before in the world of smart cards. “What separates Curve from all the other smart card products that have tried to launch and failed is that we aren’t just offering people a nifty gadget to pay with. We are offering consumers a better way to manager their entire financial lives and make better choices end to end,” said Curve CEO Shachar Bialick. Curve isn’t just a card, he said; instead, it’s a tool that allows users to have control over all their financial accounts in a single location in a mobile app. To make that possible, their smart card product consolidates all of a user’s credit and debit information into a single card and then uses that master card to switch between one’s various accounts. “By doing so, the app itself can keep track of nearly the entire breadth of consumers’ spending activities,” Bialick said. “Customers can log in, see their spend, set goals and really understand how they are spending.” Today, Curve helps consumers more easily track their finances. Bialick believes the upcoming Open Banking/PSD2 regulations will broaden Curve’s ability to expand a consumer’s view of their spending life, as banks are now required to let third-party apps access customers’ transaction data and make payments on their behalf (with permission, of course). That new transparency, according to Bialick, will help Curve track all of a customer’s spending — not just card transactions — providing a much fuller picture of one’s financials. Moreover, the app also offers customers a host of other useful goods — like the ability to be able to turn a card on and off, send instant text notifications on spending as well as alerts when customers are at risk of overspending balances or pre-set spending limits. The card’s most important feature, Bialick said, is its ability to allow customers to “go back in time” and change how they made their purchases. “So, say you are in a store, and for some reason you can’t log into our app and change the card you are using from your standard to maybe a store card you have in your wallet. Or perhaps you just forget. What we [do is] let people go back to the app within two weeks and switch the payment method to what you meant to use,” he explained. The customer gets the rewards points they’re entitled to without having to return the good and repurchase it. “In reality, very few people are that dedicated to capturing card points. But with this app, it really doesn’t take any dedication,” Bialick said. Other card platforms have failed by over-promising and under-delivering, but he noted that Curve has 100,000 satisfied customers for its product coming out of beta — and 50,000 more sitting on a waitlist. “A smart card that is just a new way to pay? No one needs that. But a smart card that actually makes you smarter about what you spend? We think there is a market for that — and so far, the numbers back that up,” Bialick said.