Two UK fintechs stay committed to the “hard” US market, despite exec exits and banking crisis

Despite executive departures and a US banking crisis, UK fintechs Bud and Curve are determined to succeed stateside.
Two UK fintechs stay committed to the “hard” US market, despite exec exits and banking crisis

Two UK-headquartered fintechs looking to crack the US say they remain committed to the market, despite key US executive departures and a banking crisis across the Atlantic.

HSBC-backed open banking fintech Bud and the all-your-cards-in-one fintech Curve are amongst other UK-headquartered fintechs like Monzo and Revolut wanting to crack it stateside.

Like the 15th-century European explorers, colonising the US remains a tantalising prospect for UK fintech, offering a heady mix of big revenues and high margins along with the cache of claiming such a prized scalp.

Winning in US difficult

That said, winning is not easy in the US, as it’s a difficult, varied financial market to navigate, burdened by regulatory compliance costs and cultural differences. 

There is a graveyard full of UK brands that have tried and failed to make it in the US. can reveal that Curve US CEO Amanda Orson, who held the role between September 2019 and May 2023, has left the fintech. 

Likewise, Bud’s executive vice president, North America, Kyle Ray has exited Bud after just 10 months in the role.

Bud departures

Other recent departures from Bud, understands, include Martin ten Houten, EVP commercial, and Eloise Taysom, Bud’s head of product. Bud says it can’t comment on executives who have left but said it’s looking to employ more sales staff in the US.

Staff leaving fintechs is “fairly natural”, says Bud CEO and co-founder Ed Maslaveckas, responding to the departures, pointing out some workers only want to do two or three years at a fintech and then move on.

Without drawing on specific departures, he says Bud is not dramatically shifting headcount, which now numbers over 100 overall.

London-based Bud made a name for itself as a poster child for the burgeoning trend of open banking, which allows financial data to be shared between banks and third parties.

The startup officially launched in the US in March this year, with a leadership team of six including Ray who's now left.

“We are thrilled to bring Bud to the US,” said 33-year-old Maslaveckas, in a press release announcing the US launch.

“The US shows growing interest in open banking, and many Americans are wondering how they can use transactional data in their businesses.”

Reflecting on its US launch five months later, Maslaveckas says: “We always knew it was going to be a hard market and it certainly is a hard market.

Bud “zero to one” in US

“The challenge being that when we’re in the UK, we’re fairly well established, we have a lot of reference customers, and in the US it’s kind of zero to one.”

Unfortunately for Bud, backed by heavyweights including HSBC, Goldman Sachs, US credit bureau TransUnion, and ANZ New Zealand, the country’s largest lender, its US launch chimed with this year’s US banking crisis.

Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate Bank, and Signature Bank all failed triggering a sharp decline in bank stock prices.

Amid the fallout, Bud’s target market of mid-market banks drew up the drawbridge, shutting out tech companies like Bud.

Bud pivots

The UK startup was forced to pivot and switch its focus to try and ink deals with US top 30 financial institutions (which can be a long, drawn-out process) and fintechs, says Maslaveckas.

“We don’t expect that banking crisis and that did certainly put a challenge on how we were going to market. That definitely slowed us down,” he says.

Banking crisis aside, Maslaveckas says Bud, which has raised over $100m to date (last year, it raised $80m, although a chunk of that raise is thought to be contingent on hitting certain targets), is making gains in the US. 

“Our aim for this year was to keep it simple and win 10 customers and hopefully be in the sales process with one or two big banks, so we’re on track to do that,” he says, though he won’t name any customers signed or close to being signed.

Maslaveckas says, in general, US financial institutions are receptive to the highly developed UK fintech ecosystem and the waves the UK is making in open banking.

Bud's proposition in the US, to a large extent, mirrors its UK offering, selling bank data analytics and customer insight so, for example, institutions can make better lending decisions, and product recommendations. Earlier this week, Bud launched a generative AI tool.

Products positioned differently

Yet its products are positioned differently in the US, factoring in cross-Atlantic societal differences such as in healthcare and employee pay.

One pointed difference between the UK and US market, says Maslaveckas, is the US has a “very relationship-driven” sales approach contrasting to a more structured approach in the UK.

Speaking to from London, Maslaveckas is currently sorting out his US Visa, as it’s likely he will be spending more time stateside in the future.

Bud CEO spending more time in US

He likens his role in the US now to the early months of Bud, which he co-founded with his childhood friend Geroge Dunning in 2015, when he was the startup’s first sales executive, selling the brand to a new market.

Bud’s US operations don’t have a permanent US office; staff work remotely and can make use of shared working space when they want to meet up.

Along with the UK and US, Bud also has a presence in New Zealand, where its backer ANZ processes most of its consumer lending in New Zealand using Bud's tools, but Bud is not actively selling its products in Australasia.

Maslaveckas, who grew up in Atlanta, says he is enamoured by the “go get 'em energy” of US workers and remains bullish on its prospects in the US, despite the obvious challenges.

He says he would give Bud’s US offering a six or seven out of ten to date, with “room for improvement”.

Meanwhile, Curve, the all-your-cards-in-one, launched in the US last year.

Curve allows users to combine all debit, credit, and loyalty cards into one, with a range of other features including the ability to “go back in time” to move payments between banks.

Details of its progress in the US are few.

When it launched in the US, Curve founder and CEO Shachar Bialick said: “By empowering US customers with their finances, we hope to help more people towards a better financial future.”

Its US customers can also access Curve Credit, which Curve, which has over 3 million customers, says acts as a buy now pay later alternative.

Curve US boss out

Orson was Curve US CEO from 2019 to May 2023 and then Curve advisor from May 2023 until July 2023 when she left the business. It is unclear if she has been replaced. 

A Curve spokesperson said: "Curve is proud to have bucked the trend and operate a novel US product and growing business. 

“We attribute this success to our hard-working team and our product which combines multiple cards and accounts into one and provides greater financial control and smart insights. It was tailor-made for the US market, where average consumers have up to 7 rewards-earning cards."

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