CurrenSeek helps travellers find the best currency exchange rates
By Yon Heong Tung for e27
Malaysia-based startup Intuitive Asset says that it works by bypassing wholesale bank rates and allowing users to crowdsource updated rates
Keeping stock of your money can be a hassle while travelling overseas. Being in a foreign land, it’s difficult to find out which money changers or banks offer best foreign currency exchange rates. It’s very likely that most travellers will simply go to the most convenient outlet, which may not give the best bang for their buck.
“The difference between them [currency exchange outlets] can be as much as 200 per cent,” says Hakim Karim, Co-founder of CurrenSeek, in an interview with e27. And, more often than not, travellers can simply walk a short distance to find differing rates of up to 20 per cent.
While this task may sound simple to locals; as they would know who to call or where to look, travellers — especially those who are horrible with directions — well, they might as well be walking in a maze.
“We want to help travellers save money and time,” says Karim. Because, when you are on holiday, you should be spending time looking out for tourist attractions, not dull looking moneychangers.
Getting the best rates
How the CurrenSeek app works, Karim says, is that it provides the “real rates on the ground” from different moneychangers, instead of wholesale bank rates that are only available to banks.
Users can update the currency exchange rates of any outlet on the app, share it with their friends, or write a review of an outlet. It also integrates with navigation apps such as Google Maps, so you can easily find your way there.
Currently, it is only available in Malaysia and covers 10 major currencies including USD, GBP, AUD, SGD, EUR, RMB, TWD, KRW, JPY and IDR.
Since it started operations seven months ago, it has partnered with 27 bank branches and 88 money changers.
Small team but fast growth
Like many startups, CurrenSeek has skeleton crew; four people, to be exact. It has, however, made steady strides in its progress.
It received a grant of RM150,000 (US$34,000) from Malaysian government-backed investment fund Cradle Fund.
It was also recently listed on CrowdPlus.Asia, a Hong Kong-based equity crowdfunding platform. To date, it has raised RM14,244 (US$3230) of its RM300,000 (US$68,000) goal, with 44 days left on the calendar.
“CrowdPlus.Asia vastly simplifies the process [of investment] as the contracts are standardised and the individual only has to provide some information about themselves. It’s also all overseen and approved by the securities commission so people should feel much more comfortable compared to other types of investments,” says Karim.
In addition, the app has experienced more than 3,500 downloads, with a retention rate of 50 percent. Last December, it won at the NextBank Kuala Lumpur Finch competition and was selected to compete at the Hong Kong Fintech competition later this month.
Monetisation and the future
Karim says that it plans to monetise via Traffic arbitrage; for example, referrals from leading travel platforms such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb. It may also seek revenue streams through data analytics, in-app purchases, business listing lead generation, and even through the cryptocurrency or P2P space.
CurrenSeek aims to hit 75,000 downloads by the end of this year and introduce other services such as gamification, analytics and a bidding platform.
It also wants to increase its database of moneychangers to more than 250 by the end of this year. It will be seeking additional funding for the development of the aforementioned products and services, increased marketing efforts and expansion across Malaysia.
the article first appeared in e27.com