UK start-up offers consumers 'financial time travel'

Shoppers carry shopping bags decorated with the British Union flag, as they walk along Regent Street in London.
Shoppers carry shopping bags decorated with the British Union flag, as they walk along Regent Street in London. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON/NEW YORK • A London- based start-up has joined Mastercard in launching a payment card that allows users to retroactively choose a different credit or debit card for a purchase they have already made, in what they called "financial time travel".

Curve yesterday started offering customers the chance to "go back in time" and switch the card used for any given transaction for up to two weeks after the purchase, in what it said would be a world first.

The start-up had said on Monday that it was planning to announce backing from two large international banks soon, but declined to provide more information.

Curve, which has a patent pending for the new tool, provides customers with one card that can aggregate all of their existing Mastercard and Visa payment cards.

Users can carry only the Curve card and switch between the cards they want to use for a purchase through a mobile phone app.

Founded in 2015, the start-up is among a growing group of young companies seeking to make better use of digital technologies for payment and banking products.

Curve yesterday started offering customers the chance to "go back in time" and switch the card used for any given transaction for up to two weeks after the purchase, in what it said would be a world first.

Curve's chief executive Shachar Bialick said the "time travel" functionality will give customers more time to chose the most convenient form of payment for any given transaction.

For example, users might have funds available in their current account days after a purchase paid for with a credit card - and would therefore prefer to switch the transaction to a debit card to avoid interest fees.

"The user can manage their cash flow much better," Mr Bialick said. "It's very hard to make the decision at the point of sale."

The functionality would also enable users to take better advantage of card rewards, he said.

While users would be able to switch cards, the change would happen within Curve's platform, so merchants would only see the original transaction and would not be charged card-processing fees twice.

Rewards gained through the first purchase will be reversed if that card is changed, Curve said.

Curve, which is in "beta" testing mode, has already had more than 50,000 sign-ups, with its cards having been used for more than £50 million (S$89.4 million) worth of transactions so far. It plans to fully launch this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'UK start-up offers consumers 'financial time travel''. Print Edition | Subscribe