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Curve VP head of North America Amanda Orson on fintech

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 26 March 2020

Amanda Orson, VP, head of North America from banking tech company Curve on future fintech

Curve logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP) What is your name and what do you do there for Curve?

Amanda Orson (AO): I?m Amanda Orson, VP, head of North America. I?m responsible for leading Curve?s expansion in the United States.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Curve, what is it and what does company do?

AO: Curve is an over-the-top banking platform that connects your cards and finances to one place. Curve is just one card. Picture all your debit, credit and other payments cards accessible via one card and a connected app. That?s Curve. Curve is an operating system for your money, one central point to spend send see and save your finances.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

Our strongest appeal is to people that have multiple payment cards, and a fragmented financial life, each with a different use case. That?s the person for whom Curve?s product proposition is strongest and the most natural fit.

SMP: When was Curve founded, how many people work there and how is it funded?

AO: Curve was founded in 2015, but pivoted to a consumer, not commercial, product in 2018. We currently have 280 employees across three offices in London, Bristol, and New York City. We closed our series B funding round of $55million in July 2019.

SMP: How does the ?card? work and how many customers do you have?

AO: When you use a Curve card you create two simultaneous transactions. In one Curve acts as the merchant and charges your underlying funding card. At the same time Curve disburses funds to the place you?ve made a purchase.

We currently have almost one million users in the UK and European Economic Area (EEA) with over 1.3 billion spent on Curve in just over 2 years.

Photograph of  Amanda Orson, VP, head of North America Amanda Orson, VP, head of North America at CurveSMP: What are the challenges that you?ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Curve?

AO: The single largest challenge is the one we find ourselves in at the moment, attempting to launch a new country, outfit an office, and hire a product team during a pandemic.

We?ve developed an internal task force to attend think through business continuity plans, including the eventuality of having an entirely remote workforce and beyond. While we, like everyone, look forward to the world returning to normal - we?re not letting this slow us down and all our plans remain firmly on track.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

AO: Announcing the office location in Brooklyn, New York was a great joy. Culmination of several months of city selection process, budget modeling, and negotiation of incentives. However, Brooklyn is having a very exciting moment, attracting more and more startups and we?re excited to be a part of that.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for the fintech sector and the competition you have?

AO: We have no direct competitors. Our largest challenge is really nailing our product proposition in a succinct fashion and marketplace education.

SMP: What impact is the COVID-19 having on Curve and its business operations?

AO: All three of our offices are now entirely working from home. We, like everyone else in the world, are going through the growing pains that entails. From having to figure out IT requests to remote video meeting infrastructure and so on.

We?re also having to hire and onboard new employees remotely - which is very different for all involved.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments?

Personifying a brand and keeping that brand voice consistent across all customer touchpoints is an enormous undertaking. As is crafting a message that cuts through the noise with a proposition which is totally unique to the world. But we are making great progress.

Curve website 600x472

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding a fintech environment in the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AO: The most interesting aspect of the fintech environment will be seeing how companies pivot to serve discrete customer segments during a period of economic hardship. I?ll be watching closely to see how fintechs rise to the occasion to serve furloughed, commission-based workers and the gig economy and how they can provide liquidity or a bridge for small businesses that need to get to the other side of that 12-18 months. Will fintechs take this opportunity to help people better understand how to make every dollar they earn, or save, stretch a little farther or buy a little more? only time will tell.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for fintech for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AO replies with:

  • In the immediate term mergers and acquisitions will fall off the frenetic pace that opened 2020.

  • Digital bank bundles including checking plus high yield savings accounts made more sense when APYs were 2.26%, but now that they?re only 0.26% on the high end - they will have to find new value propositions.

  • Travel rewards are going to be far less compelling for consumers, other categories of spend will be emphasized in new rewards products.

  • Infrastructure startups, including those that support fintechs, are going to be financially resilient and continue to grow and expand.

  • Curve will launch in the United States.

SMP: What are your top overall five tips for marketing success for a fintech brand and why?

  • The most important marketing asset you have is your product. Focus on creating a product people will love foremost.

  • Your end goal should always be marketing by word-of-mouth. Delight your customers and give them a reason to share you with their friends.

  • Personal finance is intimidating for many people. Break how you deliver value down in easy-to-understand ways and anticipate and solve customer problems early.

  • Be authentic. Sound like a real human in marketing messaging, copywriting, and social media touchpoints. And engage with customers when appropriate. The era of stale, formal letters from your financial institution and broadcast-only marketing communications is over.

  • Don?t overleverage your brand against any one marketing channel - whether you?re investing real dollars or time, mix your media spend across any channels customers and potential customers might find you; then measure and optimize for them. Too many brands of all stripes are focused on paid acquisition strategies via Facebook and Google to their detriment.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you?d like to share?

AO: Very excited to bring Curve, an operating system for your financial life, to the United States. And we want to hear from you, too - we?re approachable, suggestable, and are very focused on creating the best possible payments card experience for our customers. Suggestions are always welcome.

SMP: Best way to contact you and Curve?

Please do sign up for the Curve US waitlist at the website.
Reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @imaginecurve and follow us on LinkedIn.

And I think you?ll find me very accessible on Twitter @amandaorson.

Curve website 600x299

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

AO: Corned beef hash and eggs. (It?s also right after Saint Patrick?s Day.)

SMP: What?s the last good thing that you did for someone?

AO: I?m a connector - most recent example was connecting someone in the market for a job with a person I knew was quietly hiring for this position. It?s such a natural part of what I do I don?t even think of it as being a ?good thing? but I connect people all the time.

SMP: If you weren?t working at Curve what would you be doing?

AO: Primarily running my own digital agency. On the side building, scaling, selling web-based assets and advising a venture capital firm.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

I finally took my mom to Alaska for two weeks; the vacation I?d been promising her we?d do for over 10 years. Juneau, Glacier Bay, Seward, Talkeetna, Denali, Fairbanks. She always wanted to go and I?m so glad I didn?t wait one more year. If you?re waiting to do something for a loved one, I urge you - just do it.

SMP: What?s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

AO: Refer to my calendar, check Slack. I try to batch checking emails to 2-3x a day (this is why) but I?ve not found a good way of making that work for Slack yet.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

AO: The ability to heal anything for anyone. No one wants to see people they love sick or injured, and health is our most precious asset.

Got an interesting story to tell? Get in touch.

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