Frequent travellers around Southeast Asia will probably be familiar with the transaction fees that are charged on their credit cards, as well as the unfavourable exchange rates that they have to deal with when converting currency. The transaction fees and higher markup on exchange rates can be a substantial burden given the fact that frequent travelers make a lot of transactions over time, thus forking out more and more money for paying these fees until it gradually reaches several thousands of dollars for some. One fintech startup based in Singapore, YouTrip, intends to disrupt this space by providing the country’s first ever multi-currency travel e-wallet equipped with a prepaid MasterCard for the frequent traveller that eliminates foreign transaction fees while also offering attractive foreign exchange rates.
YouTrip was co-founded by its chief executive officer, Caecilia Chu, and Arthur Mak in 2016 with the aim of developing and providing the best mobile financial services for travellers in Southeast Asia. Their multi-currency travel e-wallet, which was launched in 2018, offers mid-market exchange rates for 150 currencies across the world with no markup or hidden fees, with mid-market being the real-time exchange rates that can be seen on financial sites that is the midpoint between the buy and sell prices of two currencies. The multi-currency e-wallet is available free of charge, and the startup’s platform was developed by experienced software architects and cloud platform developers with years of experience in the tech and banking industries. As well, YouTrip’s foreign exchange rates are kept fresh and up-to-date on its platform to offer the best rates for its users.
According to the startup, the mobile e-wallet has performed quite well in its home base of Singapore, having been downloaded over 200,000 times since its launch and handling more than one million transactions to date. One reason for the platform’s outstanding performance in the country is its SmartExchange feature, which allows for the automatic exchange of other wallet currencies when the user has insufficient local currency to finish a purchase. Therefore users are afforded a seamless payment experience as the platform automatically converts other currencies in their wallet to ‘top-up’ the purchase. SmartExchange also adopts the real-time wholesale exchange rate that comes with no markup costs or transaction fees in its approach.
According to Caecilia Chu, the startup chose to establish their presence in the Singapore market first as the country has a highly promising and lucrative outbound travel market, which is estimated to be worth approximately US$27 billion yearly coming from the spending that the country’s residents generate when they travel overseas. Other than its home market of Singapore, the fintech startup also has a presence in Thailand due to its strategic partnership with Thailand’s Kasikornbank that was established in November. YouTrip’s ambitious goal in Thailand is to obtain at least 400,000 users during the platform’s first year of service.
The fintech startup notched an impressive record when it managed to raise a record US$25.8 million for its pre-Series A funding round which was held in May 2019. The financing round saw the participation of Insignia Ventures Partners and major Asian family offices, and the amount raised by YouTrip represents the largest pre-Series A funding round for a fintech startup in the region of Southeast Asia.
YouTrip, the multi-currency travel e-wallet fintech startup, will continue to develop more product features, like a budget planner, and improve its technology capabilities in order to better serve its users and provide them seamless payment experiences. Since the recent acquisition of its remittance license issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the company has also begun looking at developing a remittance product so that its users are able to send money across borders.