The law of the fintech jungle is changing

Today when I went out to buy my lunch, nursing a crushing migraine I accidentally pulled out my company debit card to pay for the transaction. Luckily, in my glucose deprived eleventh hour, I realised the grey card was not the orange card, and yelled out to the operator to stop the transaction. Not a great look during the Sydney lunch rush hour, with hungry city workers milling around, eager for me to just get on with buying my lunch so they could.

Of course, if I had of had a Curve card on me today, it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d paid with the incorrect card. The card aggregator startup, who celebrated the first anniversary of their launch across 27 European countries today (must have been a slow fintech news day), would have allowed me to jump into their app right after and take advantage of their Go Back In Time feature. Assuming I’d caught my payments slip-up within 14 days, I could have moved it from one card to another. Bingo.

That’s not the only awesome thing about Curve. Like I link my Amex to my PayPal account to take advantage of collecting Amex points at places PayPal is accepted but not Amex, so to could I have once linked my Amex card to my master Curve card.

I use the past tense, because all of that was possible, until Amex pulled the plug on Curve back in late January.

Curve is understandably upset – you can read the founders impassioned blog here – but it does signal and interesting shift in the innovation/incumbent sands. The point at which banks and payment services become relegated to ‘dumb pipes’ is possibly closer than we think. In the Curve and Amex example, it’s already here.

Curve and Amex aside, the emergence of the money ‘experience’ gives me zero doubt that this will be death by 1000 cuts for incumbents, who despite many murmurings haven’t nailed this one, yet. If you can’t deliver the new contextually relevant, digitally immersive experience, then you don’t understand the new laws of the jungle in finance. This rings true for transactional banking and wealth, just as much as it does for payments.

If you are not experience led, and the only way you can retain your position is by killing off those who are, then you’re playing a very dangerous game that doesn’t end well. Curve may or may not win this battle, but it’s arguable we now have a fairly good insight into how Amex is approaching the war.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

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