In less than 10 months since they started up, Singapore’s first multi-currency mobile wallet firm YouTrip has raised US$25.5 million in a pre-Series A funding round, the largest amount for a fintech startup operating in Southeast Asia.
According to the release, investors include major Asian family offices and venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners.
The funds will be used to develop its technical payment infrastructure and roll out new product features.
YouTrip is also eyeing expansion in SEA and developing localised solutions for the region’s growing number of travellers.
In an email with Vulcan Post, co-founder and CEO of YouTrip, Caecilia Chu shared that “users can expect innovative features involving insurance, remittance and other travel-related areas in the pipeline”.
As YouTrip first started out in the foreign currency space, they want to focus on building an all-rounded product that helps travellers in financial-related aspects.
“The long-term goal is for YouTrip’s multi-currency mobile wallet product offering to be easily accessible to Southeast Asian travellers to use around the world,” Chu said.
If you don’t know what YouTrip does, here’s a quick explanation.
It lets users seamlessly convert their local currency to any of their supported 150 currencies within the mobile app and pay with no hidden fees at wholesale exchange rates.
Users can use any credit or debit card to top up the e-wallet, which can hold a maximum value of S$3,000, to exchange and store 10 selected currencies in advance through the in-app exchange feature.
YouTrip also does not charge any overseas transaction fees nor markup on foreign exchange conversion.
Registration is free and no minimum account balance is required to use the YouTrip card that’s issued by EZ-Link.
The mobile app, which can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, works with a linked pre-paid Mastercard® so users can make payments at more than 30 million merchants worldwide.
Raising the largest pre-Series A funding is no mean feat for this young startup.
Chu shared that both YouTrip and Insignia Ventures Partners were aligned on their views of the market – that there’s untapped potential in traveller’s payment in SEA.
“Southeast Asia’s population of over 650 million people represents one of the largest and fastest growing outbound travellers market globally – it is expected to total US$80 billion in outbound travel expenditure by 2020,” said Chu.
“YouTrip’s successful launch in Singapore since Aug 2018 is a testament to the market traction and future opportunity, and we can only expect much more to come in the SEA market beyond Singapore,” she added.
Chu expressed her thanks to Insignia for their trust in YouTrip’s team of experienced founders and executives.
YouTrip Isn’t Tripping
Chu, who travels frequently, launched YouTrip with Arthur Mak, co-founder and Chairman, in August 2018 because she noticed the high mark ups banks would charge on overseas transactions.
According to YouTrip, overseas transaction fee on bank-issued credit and debit cards can be as high as 3.5%, and making purchases overseas with credit cards usually entail a Dynamic Currency Conversion markup that goes as high as 5% or more.
She explained that they saw a large gap in payment solutions for travellers under-served by financial service providers, “not only in the fee perspective but overall from a service and product offering aspect.
Singaporeans are one of the most frequent travellers and biggest travel spenders worldwide, she noted, yet there’s still no answer for the ASEAN market.
“Travellers commuting across ASEAN experience currency conversions a lot more frequently as compared to North American and European markets – both leveraging on more dominant currencies,” she explained.
Both founders have experienced costly card transaction fees firsthand, which Chu said is a result of restrictions imposed by traditional financial institutions.
“We believe that cross-border payments should be easy and convenient for the average traveller,” she shared.
When they first started, Chu revealed that their biggest challenge was the uncertainty of a product market fit for YouTrip.
They did plenty of research and user study to create the product but could never be so sure until they launched and let the market feedback to them.
“Now after nine months, we have heard from our users and the general public. They like it! And our initial challenge is gone now, with a much bigger challenge ahead.”
“How do we continue to impress and delight our customers? That’s the challenge that we give to ourselves everyday now – we need to constantly invent and innovate our product by listening to our customers,” she stated.
The YouTrip app has been downloaded over 200,000 times and the startup has processed over 1 million transactions since their launch.
Manpower has also grown to 70 people in Singapore and Hong Kong, where they are also based at.
She added that YouTrip is excited to share that users can expect more SEA currencies to be supported in their in-app exchange feature.
The company can’t share the exact countries they will be entering for now, but shares that they have been receiving requests for YouTrip to come aboard.
Chu revealed that they are currently looking to expand to one to two countries within six to 12 months’ time, and will continue to expand YouTrip.
Featured Image Credit: YouTrip Singapore