Can a financial institution be reimagined?
Can it be more intuitive, more secure and deliver greater value for customers?
These are the questions Rasha Katabi set out to answer four years ago. A veteran of the banking industry in both Canada and the U.S., Ms. Katabi assembled a team of fellow innovators and began working on what would become Brim, a financial platform at the intersection of lifestyle, finance and technology with the newest credit card on the block.
“It was clear to me that there’s a better way,” says Ms. Katabi, founder and chief executive officer of Toronto-based Brim Financial Inc. “I felt that we could come up with something that really is transformational from a consumer perspective, something very innovative that integrates with the digital age from the ground up.”
The Brim Mastercard launched in July, 2018, and is available in three versions: a standard no-fee Brim card, Brim World ($99 annually) and Brim World Elite ($199 annually).
Ms. Katabi says Brim was designed for a tech-forward consumer. For example, cardholders can access the Brim platform through an online portal or mobile app, and it’s integrated with mobile wallets including Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
“The Brim cardholder is someone who is digitally savvy and seeking a seamless, intuitive financial experience that meets them exactly where they are today,” Ms. Katabi says.
She lists the card’s many features: no extra fees on foreign transactions; an open rewards platform that allows users increased flexibility to earn points and the means to redeem them anywhere Mastercard is accepted; the option to pay for purchases over $500 in installments; free Boingo WiFi to cardholders worldwide; and the ability to lock or unlock the card in real time.
“We’re not held back by any type of legacy structures, and that allowed us to be truly innovative on many fronts,” Ms. Katabi says of building the Brim card. “We haven’t simply taken the traditional structure and digitized it.”
One of the features getting the most buzz is the open rewards platform. Brim has created a ‘bespoke’ loyalty platform for its partners including UberEats and Hello Fresh, that allows the company to provide special earn offers to Brim cardholders based on repeat visits or amount spent. Offers span a wide variety of merchants outside of traditional categories, and even includes offers such as earning twice the points from Amazon, Spotify and Netflix.
“Based on [your] behaviour with a particular merchant, the merchant has the ability to recognize a loyal customer and offer more, therefore incenting you to come back,” Ms. Katabi says.
Brim points can be redeemed at any merchant in the world that accepts Mastercard, which means cardholders can use them for anything – from an international flight to a Tim Hortons coffee, Ms. Katabi says.
“You can also use it to redeem points for cash back to pay your monthly bill at anytime,” she says. “So it’s really the ultimate flexibility from a cardholder perspective.”
In addition to Brim Marketplace offers, with the no-fee Brim card, users earn one point for every $1 spent, while the Brim World card offers 1.5 points per $1 spent and the Brim World Elite card offers two points for every $1 spent (up to a $25,000 annual spend for the two World cards).
Brim also lets cardholders pay for purchases over $500 in installments. Traditionally, paying in installments is something that’s merchant-specific. But with the Brim card, anything can be paid for in installments by choosing that option through the Brim app or online portal. “Whether you’re buying an art piece when you’re travelling or you’re buying a new mattress or even a training package at the gym, you can opt for smaller monthly payments that match your lifestyle,” Ms. Katabi says.
For each installment, users must pay a fixed 7 per cent fee, added to the first statement, and then the original purchase price is divided into equal payments over 12 to 24 months. Brim also charges a processing fee of 0.475 per cent of the purchase price per month for the duration of the installment period.
As for security, Brim was custom built with state-of-the-art digital encryption. As well, users can lock and unlock their card instantly from any device in real time, Ms. Katabi says. Or, they can choose to lock it only for online or foreign purchases, while still allowing them to use the card physically in person.
If a user has multiple cards for family members, parents can keep track of what their children are spending in real time. They can set a spending limit without granting access to their full credit limit and lock their family members’ card instantly from the portal or app.
There’s also a budgeting feature built into the app, where users can view their spending habits by category and compare their spending from month to month.
Ms. Katabi says that creating a platform like Brim’s from the ground up was a lot of hard work. “But I enjoy the puzzle,” she says. “I enjoy challenges. And I love working with a great team.”
Now, they’re focused on getting the word out about Brim in a crowded marketplace, Ms. Katabi says. Currently, about half of Brim’s card users are in Ontario and the rest is spread across Canada.
“We’ve built an amazing product and now we just want the world to know about it,” she says. “And we keep adding and building and innovating on this platform. It’s just the beginning.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.