Curve, a payment platform that allows users to pay from any account or credit or debit card through a single card, has launched its first brand campaign.
Following a visual revamp, the ads, which were created in-house, are running across 200 London Underground stations and 4,000 Tube carriages for a month from today (18 October). They are expected to reach four to five million commuters and aim to grow awareness and add to the 650,000-strong customer base.
Curve provides an app, in which users can monitor all of their financial accounts, and a single payment card that can be programmed in the app to pay from any of the user’s cards. Payments can also be "corrected" retrospectively – for example, reassigned from a debit card to a credit card. Along with the physical card, this function sets Curve apart from Apple Pay and Android Pay.
There is a free option, which comes with a plastic card, and premium paid accounts, which offer metal cards and come with added benefits such as travel insurance and LoungeKey airport lounge access.
Speaking to Campaign, head of brand and comms Amabel Polglase said that when she joined Curve in August 2018, its branding was "a little bit disparate" – something she said was common in financial technology start-ups, where the user experience designer often ends up responsible for brand design and identity.
While a disparate brand is undesirable for any marketer, it was a particular issue for Curve because it was directly contrary to the idea behind the product. "We try to simplify people’s lives by pulling everything together," Polglase said. "We’re all about simplicity and [being] uncomplicated."
Polglase admitted that communicating exactly what Curve is was one of the challenges faced by the brand, especially against a backdrop of increasing marketing activity from digital banks such as Monzo, Revolut and Starling Bank, which made its TV debut this week.
Consumers, she acknowledged, are likely to "not really understand the difference" between these brands and Curve, which does not provide a current account of its own and does not require users to move any money in order to use it.
"If you look at the stats around the challenger banks, very few people [actively] use them," Polglase said – meaning that while large numbers may be signing up, they are not using these start-ups for their primary accounts, but rather as a "mistress bank", moving money from an account usually held at a legacy bank.
In contrast, she claimed that Curve was "a very, very sticky product – our daily usage is higher than Twitter".
Although Polglase said she has had conversations with agencies, the nature of the brand was one reason she chose to work with a small team in-house on the campaign. "We’re very mission-based and everyone that works here truly understands the product," she explained. "We’re not a challenger bank – it’s very difficult to get across. We’re true disruptors – much more than a bank. We’re creating a completely new category."