Update 12th July: Curve has now confirmed the startup has closed $10 million in series A funding. Investors are banking providers Santander InnoVentures, Investec, Connect Ventures, Speedinvest, Oxford Capital, Breega Capital, and Samos Investments. Individual investors include: Henry Ritchotte (ex Deutsche Bank COO), Gael de Boissard (ex Credit Suisse board member), Alessandro Hatami (The Pacemakers; ex Lloyds, Paypal, GE Capital), Paul Townsend (Vitesse PSP, Barclays, WorldPay), Emilian Popa (Rocket Internet, Naspers, Groupon), Rohan Haldea (Apax Partners) Original post below.
Curve, the London fintech startup that offers a platform that lets you consolidate all your bank cards into a single Curve card and manage your money, is on the verge of closing $10 million in Series A funding.
According to sources, the round, which could be announced as soon as this week, is being led by Connect Ventures, with participation from Santander Ventures, the venture arm of Spain-headquartered bank Santander Group.
A number of other investors from the fintech and banking world are also participating, although I haven’t been able to pin down who they are. It is also not clear if this Series A includes an earlier bridge round of approximately $2.5m announced in September.
Curve co-founder and CEO Shachar Bialick declined to comment when asked for confirmation of the startup’s new funding and investors.
Along with Connect Ventures, Curve’s existing investors include Samos Investments, Speedinvest, pre-seed/seed investor Seedcamp, London Co-Investment Fund, TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus, Ricky Knox of challenger bank Tandem, Azimo founder Michael Kent, Ed Wray of Betfair, former members of the Google Wallet team, and the founders of Money2020.
Will Curve partner with major banks?
That Curve’s Series A backers includes the venture arm of a multinational bank invites speculation on what might be next for the London fintech startup, in terms of how it could partner with banks going forward. As it stands, Curve’s core offering both competes with and complements your existing bank’s services, to varying degrees, depending on how you view these things.
The Curve platform lets you link your existing banks’ debit and credit cards to an app and the accompanying Curve card (powered by MasterCard), which then acts as a conduit for any payments you make offline or online, meaning you only need to carry a single physical card with you. In this context, Curve is entirely reliant on and complementary to the banks and serves to improve the experience of your existing bank cards.
Then there’s Curve’s low currency exchange rate and 1 per cent fee when spending money abroad, something that potentially eats into the profits of banks that do a very nice line of business on foreign exchange rates and hidden charges.
Curve also recently launched its own instant cashback scheme in partnership with major U.K. retailers, giving you another incentive to use the Curve card to re-route your spending through the Curve app.
And more broadly, by becoming the platform to track your spending and manage your money, Curve is potentially gaining access to a lot of financial data, something that banks have traditionally been the custodian of, even if they have been slow to return the value of that data back to customers.
However, with or without Curve, upcoming regulation in Europe/U.K. in the form of PSD2 and Open Banking, has already put the banks’ ability to lock up your spending data on notice.
With all of that said, there are two obvious ways Santander or any other incumbent bank could partner with Curve. The first would be to adopt the full Curve platform, perhaps within a co-branded/white label offering, to give customers all of Curve’s functionality or a major subset of it.
This would provide Curve with access to millions of new customers and the partnering bank a major innovation leg up and a way to improve the experience and engagement of those customers. A full partnership with Curve would also give banks a way to get on the front-foot ready for a post-PSD2 world that is seeing a plethora of fintech startups attempt to become the hub of your financial life by aggregating your financial data and re-bundling various financial products.
The second is perhaps less ambitious but equally beneficial to both parties, which is for Santander or any bank to partner with Curve’s upcoming Curve Connect platform, a kind of app store for financial products. This could include loans and credit, loyalty, and even savings (think roundups or so-called micro-savings), accessible through Curve Connect but provided by a partner bank. And that is likely just scratching the surface.