Brim says much-hyped credit card is 'around the corner,' as applicants fume online
Brim Financial’s CEO and co-founder, Rasha Katabi, is asking applicants to remain calm as they await the 'innovative and transformative platform that is going to revolutionize the credit card landscape.'
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, June 27, 2018 4:05PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 4, 2018 11:47AM EDT
The CEO behind a hotly-anticipated trio of non-bank credit cards boasting an impressive suite of rewards points and tech-savvy perks is reassuring applicants that the company will get off the ground, three months after missing its expected launch date.
Brim Financial initially promised that its “credit card revolution” would begin in March, when its first clients could slip the pale blue Mastercards into their wallets and begin taking advantage of flexible loyalty rewards, instalment payment agreements with merchants, and lack of foreign transaction fees. The delay has caused an online uproar, with many who first sought the card venting their frustration on social media and personal finance forums.
Brim Financial’s CEO and co-founder, Rasha Katabi, is asking applicants to remain calm as they await the “innovative and transformative platform that is going to revolutionize the credit card landscape.” However, she is unwilling to commit to a firm timeline for approved applicants to get their cards in hand.
“It’s really, truly around the corner,” Katabi told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I don’t think we can give it a specific answer because of the nature of the process.”
Brim’s challenge to the long-entrenched bank and retailer-backed Canadian credit card incumbents is a largely unique one, with the company calling itself “the only non-banked credit card in Canada.” It’s looking to set itself apart by offering a lengthy list of tempting features. Some of them appear to be first of their kind in the Canadian marketplace.
Brim’s benefits include unlimited loyalty points based on how often you buy certain brands, not where you buy them. Those can be redeemed in merchandise on the Brim Marketplace online shopping portal, or as cashback towards your statement. Participating merchants can offer extra points or “surge multipliers” to compete for buyers.
The company has already signed on major brands like Amazon, Uber Eats, Netflix and Spotify.
There is also free WiFi at one million hotspots around the world, and mobile device insurance.
Smartphones are a key focus for the company. Its app, expected to be available on Apple and Android devices, allows users to shut down the card with a single press of a button if it’s lost, and lock online purchases and transactions in foreign countries. The app also features budget tracking tools and mobile wallet capabilities.
For the jet-set, Brim offers no foreign transaction fees on any international purchases, in any currency.
Cardholders can even pay for purchases over $500 through instalments, without affecting the amount of credit available on the card. Brim charges a seven per cent fee up front and a 0.475 per cent monthly processing charge.
John Shmuel, the managing editor at the financial product comparison website LowestRates.ca, said the uniqueness of some of these offerings caught his eye.
“I don’t think I have ever seen another credit card that offers instalment payments like that,” he told CTVNews.ca. “Taken on the whole, this is a really cool concept. To me, this almost feels like a combination of a loyalty app like Ritual or Drop fused with a credit card.”
Impressive as Brim may sound, mentions of the company on forum websites like Reddit and RedFlagDeals document irritation over the delayed cards, and accounts from people who were unhappy with the company’s response to complaints on social media. Some users said they were blocked from tweeting questions at the company. Some have gone as far as to question Brim’s legitimacy.
According to Brim’s Federal Corporation Information filing, the company started out in 2015 under the name KREDITshare Inc. The document lists Christian Lassonde, an investor who backed the well-known online investment management service Wealthsimple, and John Reucassel, a former BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst, as directors.
Another point of contention has been Brim’s practice of requiring some applicants to have a doctor, physician or surgeon sign a three-page document to help the company establish the applicant’s identity.
“A very small proportion of all applicants have to go through this type of identification where required,” Katabi told CTVNews.ca. “Our process is standard in the credit card industry.”
“You go through a more rigorous application if you are applying for a mortgage or something. Even then, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of getting a professional to verify details,” he said. “You’re usually just kind of bringing in income statements.”
Katabi said she is “a bit puzzled” by the criticisms levied at her company before the credit card’s launch. She said applicants will get more information, “a few days from now, probably early next week.”
“We believe that the status quo is unacceptable, and a transformation is way overdue in this space,” she said. “Brim is that transformation.”