Abhay Rana aka Nemo

A survey of OneCardToRuleThemAll companies

A lot of companies have come up with the idea for reducing all your cards into a single piece of plastic. Here’s a summary of all the ones I could find, and their fate. Beware: this field is very much a startup graveyard. The only remaining survivor seems to be Curve1 but it’s also the first one that’s attempting this outside of US.

There seem to be a lot of challenges (regulatory, financial, and technical) before such a thing becomes reality. And there’s Apple/Samsung Pay as well. Here’s a summary of all the companies I could find in this space. If I’ve missed any, please let me know, and I’ll add them here.

A photo of a hand holding a blank card

Curve (2015-)

Curve allows you to spend from any of your accounts using just one card, clearing the clutter from your wallet and simplifying your finances.

  • Curve has raised a total of $74M at a valuation north of $250M, out of which £6M were from a crowdfunding campaign in 2019.
  • Their waitlist is at 800,000+ users.
  • Curve faced flak for failing to disclose its usage numbers (<100,000 monthly active users out of total 500,000) to crowdfund investors.
  • Only works with Visa/MasterCard. Used to work with Amex, but Curve has a history of working and being blocked by Amex repeatedly.
  • See this page for some details on how it works.

Coin (YC W13) (2012-2017)

Plastc (2014-2017)

  • Single dynamic card with e-Ink touchscreen. See obligatory launch video with fancy AR.
  • Crowdfunded $9M on pre-orders in October 2014.
  • Delayed launch to April 2016, and then again to September 2016.
  • Shut down and declared bankruptcy in April 2017.
  • Complete story via digg.com.

Stratos (2015-2015)

Swyp (2014-2017)

  • Had a pre-order campaign in 2014.
  • Raised $5M from Khosla Ventures in 2017.
  • Tried to pivot in 2017, failed.
  • Offered customers a debit card with an app called Hoot in 2017 as an alternative to refunds. I don’t think the Hoot card ever materialized.
  • Tilt (Swyp’s payment processor) also ceased operations in 2017, due to unrelated reasons.
  • Swyp finally shut down in December 2017.

Final (YC W15) (2014-2017)

  • Final was with a credit card with a different number for every website. As a independent card, Final doesn’t exactly fit in this list, but it’s a very relevant and loved product.
  • Announced itself with a snazzy video in mid 2014
  • Raised $4M and launched in August 2016, but remained invite-only till the very end.
  • Final’s blog has some interesting content: A Request for Credit Cards program to build card-issuance backed businesses and the Payment card landscape for 2017.
  • Shut down in december 2017 and acquired by Goldman Sachs in an acqui-hire.

Indian Landscape

India hasn’t seen a true single-card app yet, but there have been lots of related attempts:

With the emergence of UPI, and low penetration rate of credit cards, I don’t see a market in India - but I’d love to be proven wrong.

Did I miss anything? Reach out and let me know.

Thanks to Harman for reviewing drafts of this, and PRL for getting me interested enough to document this.

  1. Curve used to live on imaginecurve.com, then switched to curve.app and now to curve.com, which must have cost them millions. 

  2. Unlike others on the list, vCard is entirely a virtual card, and supports UPI transfers from your credit limit. 

Published on June 22, 2020 in