I am a self-professed FinTech geek. Working in the financial services sector, over the last few years, as part of my role as Senior Account Manager for our financial services client Lloyds Banking Group, I’ve been prompted to research into things like regulation change and customer-centric banking. This in turn, led me into a world where words like ‘open banking’, ‘FinTech’ and ‘blockchain’ are commonplace. It’s opened my eyes (and mind) exponentially!
I regularly read articles about new FinTech applications and start-ups but I don’t feel satisfied with just reading about them, I want to try them. All of them!
Here are two I’ve been trying over the last 3-6 months:
By now, most people have heard of Monzo, a digital mobile-only banking service. Even cashiers have stopped remarking ‘well you wouldn’t lose one that would you?’ – much to my disappointment. It’s a pretty split camp – those that loved the pre-paid option of Monzo but left when it announced its move to current accounts; those that converted to its debit card option; and late joiners.
I’m part of the converted camp. And although Monzo doesn’t offer me any extra rewards, I do transfer my monthly salary into the account to help track my spending. Note: track, not control.
I thought Monzo might be a miraculous cure to stop me spending, but now I seem to spend more of my time going ‘where did I spend £149 on food?!’ (luckily, Monzo has a map function for those moments of panic).
What I would say about Monzo is that it’s made me more aware of my spending habits. And its ‘pot’ function, where you can create and top-up multiple mini-accounts, has been super helpful. I use these ‘pots’ to save a small amount every month for things like MOTs and insurance. And, because its no longer in my current balance I forget its there, meaning a nice surprise when it comes to the dreaded annual renewal.
Curve is a little newer than Monzo, this nifty little app lets you consolidate all of your cards in one place (perfect for a FinTech freak like me!) where you can just swipe, select and pay on the card that suits you best for that transaction.
Why is it so great?
- I have about 7 bank cards – from travel cards like Revolut and Clarity, to money management cards, like Monzo, as well as credit and current account cards. That’s a lot of cards to stuff in your wallet (or purse). Having just one card is super-streamlined and the app is so easy a child could use it (warning!).
- I recently went to Madrid armed with just my Curve and Clarity cards. Being a great overseas travel card, I wanted to pay for everything using my Clarity. As someone with so many cards often does – I’d forgotten my PIN. Uh oh. Then, ping! Realisation hits. I have Curve – and I know the PIN I didn’t for one second think it would work abroad but to my delight, it did, and everything was ok again. Thank you Curve.
What isn’t so great?
- Curve is new-ish, and a little unpredictable, so it makes me nervous to go out without at least one other card in tow. For example, it was declined in Tesco getting cash back (I’m not sure if Curve allows cash back or if this was just a glitch); I couldn’t use it on my Easy Jet flight (but then I couldn’t use my Monzo either); and I have been into one or two small convenience stores where the machine just wouldn’t accept payment. A little frustrating.
- Curve tells me what I’ve spent on my cards but it doesn’t hold historical data – it only records from when I start spending using the Curve card. Not a deal-breaker, just a bit frustrating. As a minor point, I also find the overall design very dark, which makes transactions difficult to read.
- The biggy. Spending on a credit card via Curve invalidates your credit card protection. Don’t ask me how this happens, but hopefully, this will be something the company can overcome. Soon.
If you have multiple cards, like me, I’d definitely recommend giving Curve a go, but if you only have two or three, I probably wouldn’t bother.