Q+A: Amanda Orson, Curve
Brought the wrong card to drinks with friends? At dinner and realized you left your credit card at home? Curve to the rescue! Curve goes beyond personal online banking, collecting all of your credit and debit cards behind one singe Curve card.
Originally based in the UK, Curve recently expanded to the US, opening their American headquarters right here in Dumbo. We sat down with Amanda Orson, VP and Head of the North America sector, to talk about the benefits and security of using Curve, and where the future of online banking is heading.
What is Curve and how does it work?
Curve is a payment card that aggregates all of your underlying cards. For example, my one Curve card can access all of my underlying cards including my Chase Sapphire Reserve, my Capital One, my USA debit card, and a lot of esoteric use cards that we happen to have here in the US. That’s very different from what exists in the UK, and the EEA where we are right now in the market. We have a lot of different cards that we forget we have, and Curve helps you assemble all of them into just one card.
How do you see the transition of personal finances/banking going from in person to the online, virtual world?
We actually believe there’s going to be a rebundling in finance. Banking was slow to transition to a digital future, and because of that, a lot of fin-tech took parts of the banking and personal finance system out and ended up building companies around that. We think that within the next 5-10 years, there is going to be a rebundling towards a digital-centric, personal finance experience that’s an inclusive complement of products. We see that right now with some of the incumbent fin-tech in the market. We see that as the way forward.
The one thing this company is completely maniacal about is being customer focused; we’re only going to build products and features that the customer is actually requesting or needs
How is Curve improving the consumer user experience through your app?
Our company is product led. I would say that the one thing this company is completely maniacal about is being customer focused: we’re only going to build products and features that the customer is actually requesting or needs–something that fills a gap in the marketplace.
Curve is already available in 32 countries around the world, congrats! What goals do you have for the future?
There’s a 25, 50, and a 100 meter target. The 25 meter target for right now is expanding into the US. The US is about 4% of the world’s population, but contributes to over ⅓ of its ad spend. It's also a very expensive country to bring a product to. Having said that, we think we have the right tools for this market.
We're also going to work on our Europe expansion. We have over 900,000 users, and have issued some 600,000 cards, with 60% of that in the UK and the rest are in Europe. However, while we are available in the EEA, we aren’t actually marketing to any of those countries, and we don't have a localized product or a translated app. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit to be plucked if we have a plan to expand more into the EEA which is what we’ll also be doing in parallel to what we’re doing here.
Many people are skeptical and afraid of having all their financial information in one place. What do you say to that?
Security is baked into the product. A lot of concern around security was born from some bad experiences as traditional banking was going online. They didn’t have digital natives in-house when they were initially making those choices, and didn’t anticipate some of the ways that things could go wrong. This is from the opposite side of it: we’re a digital-first company and always thinking about how to make a safe, secure environment. Our priority is customer experience and that also goes into customer risk management, and making sure that we're taking care of all of their data. Making sure that our integration pathways to any other partners that we might connect to are absolutely secure, is something that is literally a part of our product creation process.
Actually one of the things that Curve does uniquely is that when you use Curve, you only have to have one card. For example, if for some reason I misplace my wallet and I lose my Curve card, I can just log into my app and lock it. Then my information is safe and I won’t have to have all of my other underlying cards connected to Curve reissued, they’re all safe, it’s just my Curve card that’s lost. And once it's locked it just becomes a piece of metal essentially.
Dumbo is really is a place that people want to be.
Coming from the UK, you surely gave a lot of thought to where to settle in the USA. Why Dumbo?
My initial work with Curve was focusing on city selection, and it wasn’t just Dumbo we were considering. We started off with a spreadsheet of around two dozen cities around the US, and I slowly and methodically came up with qualitative and quantitative reasons why we’d go to any of them. We were able to rule out probably half at the first pass. Then, we sought out individual proposals from other cities and ultimately visited Charlotte,NC, Austin,TX, and New York.
In New York, we were specifically interested in Brooklyn as a way to keep costs down and have the same access to talent and the same access to all of our partners in Manhattan, vs. being based somewhere like Chelsea. Although Brooklyn itself was compelling, we particularly liked Dumbo because it feels like New York. It has coffee shops, restaurants, there’s a walkable waterfront which is wonderful. It really is a place that people want to be, and our hypothesis is that a lot of people that currently work in Manhattan probably live in Brooklyn anyway. So as we’re thinking about recruiting talent–it’s to our advantage that we have a cool place to work, be located in a cool place, and hopefully be closer to home.
The theme of this year’s annual meeting is futurists. Where do you see the future of online/personal banking going and how is Curve going to try and shape that future?
As I mentioned before, we’re going to see a rebundling of finances. Currently, we have a lot of different things that do similar, but not quite the same features in personal finance right now. Here at Curve, we're going to build a platform for personal finance in the future; this is our primary product, but only one of others to come. Beyond that I believe in 5-10 years, the things that we’ll really be talking about are digitization. I don’t think that we’ll have physical cards anymore, so we have to plan and think about that future, and we have to plan and think about how best to serve the customer by anticipating their needs.
What’s your favorite place in Dumbo?
It’s actually Luke’s Lobster. I’m very very excited, my partner is a very big lobster roll fan and being able to get a lobster roll locally from a walk from the office is fantastic.