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Fintech firm Curve threatens Amex with legal action

Curve, the all-in-one payment service, has threatened legal action against American Express after the card provider blocked thousands of customers from using the fintech firm’s services this week.

Founded in 2015, Curve enables users to load all of their debit and credit cards on to one card and choose which one to spend via its smartphone app, removing the need to carry multiple cards.

They  announced on Monday that UK Amex holders could add their cards to the app and spend through Curve, joining Visa and Mastercard. However, on Tuesday, Amex blocked its cardholders from using the service. Curve said that Amex users spent more than £450,000 before the service was blocked.

In a blog post on Curve’s website, Shachar Bialick, founder and chief executive, described the move as a “bombshell” which had been “entirely disproportionate and discriminatory to Curve and our joint customers”.

“Amex has given no good or fair reason for their decision,” he said. “We have already sent a letter [asking Amex] to reconsider their decision and have given them reasonable time to comply. Failure to do so will mean that we will be forced to exercise our rights in the courts and to submit complaints to the relevant regulators in the UK and Europe,” he added.

Through its membership points system, Amex cards offer a range of rewards such as cashback, Avios points to spend on British Airways flights and exclusive deals with brands such as Hilton and Selfridges.

Curve customers have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction at being unable to spend on Amex and collect points and cashback.

User Matt Elliot tweeted: “I spend more on Amex through Curve, due to many places not accepting it natively.”

Jonathan Conway, another user, tweeted: “It’s already hard enough finding places that accept Amex as it is. Got a Curve card because I thought it’d improve the situation.”

In a statement, American Express said it had participated in a limited trial where a small number of customers could load money on to an e-wallet using their Amex card in the Curve app.

“We informed Curve that we would not participate in the further roll out of the  e-wallet, prior to them launching the product,” Amex said. “We do not have regulatory obligations to work with a particular partner and we can confirm that we have terminated our agreement with them.”

It is a free service, although premium users can pay £150 upfront for a metal Curve card which offers fee-free foreign transactions, worldwide travel insurance, gadget insurance and the ability to “go back in time” and move purchases between cards.

Their customers have received an email explaining their legal entitlement to a 14-day “cooling-off” period, within which they can cancel the service and get their money back. In addition to this, they said it was giving its customers 14 extra days to decide whether they want to keep their cards.

Jung Min-seo

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