By John Reynolds on Tuesday 4 August 2020
Paul Harrald said Curve Credit has several thousand on its waitlist and believes the availability of credit is invaluable during Covid-19.
Curve’s planned rival to Klarna launches later this year and the executive spearheading Curve Credit is aiming to entice up to 300,000 UK active customers in the first three years and will be “very disappointed” if it’s not launched in the US in its first year.
Payment aggregator Curve is launching Curve Credit as a rival to credit cards and other types of consumer credit, amid an environment when consumers are facing a financial hit caused by Covid-19 and could be looking for new forms of credit.
Curve, which is looking to raise fresh capital, began testing Curve Credit in June on employees ahead of its full launch, likely to be in November or December this year.
Curve Credit offers customers the chance to pay off their credit card debt through a three or six-month instalment plan and split transactions, which can be picked retrospectively, into instalments, through the app.
Users use their Curve card to access Curve Credit, with users given a typical credit limit of £5,000.
Paul Harrald, head, Curve Credit, said Curve Credit has thousands on the waiting list and that its launch has been speeded up because of Covid-19.
Harrald told AltFi: “We did bring forward the launch of Curve Credit. Because we had an opportunity to and because we felt if we can get to market sooner rather than later then a lot of people would really be very happy to have Curve Credit available to them.”
“I think the availability of credit is essential in global macroeconomic events like Covid-19 and also when people have personal difficulties that are idiosyncratic to that.”
Harrald sees multiple uses of Curve Credit, which will make money on interest payments and through retail partnerships and which is staffed by 12 dedicated staff while tapping into resources from the 200-plus wider Curve group.
Along with those paying off credit card debts and buying technology and white goods via instalments, Harrald also thinks another type of user will emerge.
“If you were to go to Israel or Turkey then what people do is they throw every transaction they make, small ones and big ones, into an interest-free three-month loan. Because why not? And it becomes a habit.”
“We want to make that as easy as possible. The transaction appears on your screen, you swipe it to the right, it’s gone into your three-month interest-free instalment plan.”
Curve’s proposition mimics to an extent that of Klarna, the buy-now-pay-later Swedish fintech, which now has 85m customers.
But one difference between Klarna and Curve Credit is that retailers don’t have to support Curve Credit as a payment means as Curve’s technology allows the switching of the payment card to Curve Credit.
Harrald said Klarna won’t be “quaking in their boots” about the arrival of Curve Credit.
He said: “Klarna and Afterpay and others have done a lot of hard work for me because they have proven the asset class. I am not a rival to Klarna yet. They have five million customers in the UK.”
“Klarna has demonstrated that there is a huge demand for non-persistent debt to finance purchases at the point of sale.”
Harrald, who previously ran UK and European private equity investments at Chinese venture capital company CreditEase, has set targets for Curve Credit, which will be launched with online marketing to spread the word.
One key target is to launch Curve Credit in the US in the first 12 months following its UK launch, pointing to the bounty of a $500 billion point of sale market in the US per year.
“I would be very disappointed if that was not up and running in 12 months," he said of its planned US launch, while Harrald will also look to launch in the selective EU markets, either direct or with a partner.
“In the UK, my three-year plan, I would expect to have of the order of two to three hundred thousand active Curve Credit customers at any point in time and perhaps four to five hundred million pounds in loans granted to those customers," he adds.
Curve was founded in 2015 by Shachar Blalick.
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