With the aim of helping customers save money abroad by reducing overseas bank fees, Currensea operates as a debit card extension of your existing bank account. The business concept was developed through a frustrating conversation about using your bank card abroad. More specifically, the unwelcomed 3-7% charge in fees that occur when doing so. In November 2019, Currensea set out to raise an initial £800,000 with Seedrs, which would enable the successful launch of the product into the UK market. Currensea’s debit card saves 85% on bank charges, providing the convenience of using your bank account abroad, but without the fees. The campaign was overfunded and received £930,778, 114% of target investment, from 461 investors.
Fast forward three years and with the aim of scaling the business further, Currensea returned to Seedrs in June 2022 for their second round of funding. The campaign target of £1,000,000 was met and exceeded by a further 245%, bringing the campaign total to £3,515,567 from 827 investors. Not only this, the average nominee investment size per investor increased by 54% in the second Seedrs round. We sat down with co-founders James Lynn and Craig Goulding to hear more about why they chose to do a second fundraise through Seedrs and what this meant for their company.
Tell us about how Currensea started. Where has your vision taken you so far?
The concept of Currensea was actually born at the Duke’s Head in Putney, following a heated discussion on bank charges after a holiday. If you haven’t sorted a pre-paid card or opened a new challenger bank account, you’d likely end up incurring charges abroad for using your card. This is not a rare circumstance. UK adults use bank debit cards abroad over 1.5 billion times per year! That’s why we created Currensea, with the hope of saving travellers a chunk of money with minimal effort.
We began coding and in July 2018 we were accepted into the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) Innovate programme. We then closed our first Seed round of £1.6mil that October and began developing a partnership with Mastercard to build a market-changing Open Banking-based debit card. The following July, we became authorised by the FCA as the UK’s first regulated CBPII (Card Based Payment Instrument Issuer) and were appointed as a Principal Member of Mastercard. We connected to all major high street banks and set up a waiting list which had gained over 1500 people as we began to raise with Seedrs.
Why did you want to raise through the community, and more specifically, through Seedrs?
We decided to fundraise in order to do two things: help to drive our existing product growth and to help other organisations reap the benefits of the service we’ve already proven. We wanted our customer base to be part of our journey and become real advocates for our brand. Following our first raise with Seedrs, we were able to grow our “debit card as a service” platform, meaning we could issue debit cards that work in tandem with consumers’ existing high street bank accounts. We ran our second campaign in the summer of 2022 because we’d seen amazing growth in uptake of our Currensea card post first raise. We have customers who are as old as 90 and as young as 20, proving that our products suit an extraordinary range of people.
We’d looked at alternative partners, but found a couple of things stood out at Seedrs – namely the team and the platform. The team took a very collaborative and transparent approach which resonated with our company values. The platform UX was simple and uncluttered, resonating with our approach to Currensea as a product. Ultimately, it seemed like a great match.
What were your goals for your second crowdfunding round and how did those differ from your first?
The first time we raised with Seedrs, we had less of an idea of the story and specific angles of that story that would resonate with the broader investor audience. I think we got it right in the end, but it required a lot of iterations and feedback along the way. The second time round, it became a lot easier. We have a number of angel investors involved in Currensea and this time we also had two venture capitalists involved in our fundraising.
I really wanted to raise through the community a second time, for multiple reasons. It’s hugely valuable to bring on some amazing brand advocates and people who have belief in a product. These people have seen and used the product, so giving them the chance to get involved is incredibly powerful. A particular highlight of our second round was beating our campaign target of £1 million in under two hours!
What have been the long term benefits of your crowdfunding campaigns and what have the proceeds helped you achieve?
We opened up awareness of the fundraising round to our existing customer base early on and discovered that a high percentage of our investors were actually existing customers who loved the product so much they wanted to get involved. Pairing these existing customers with new customers from the Seedrs community meant we could bring on so many amazing brand advocates, which has helped spread the word of Currensea even further.
We like to involve our shareholders in the journey, whether that be angels, crowdfund investors, or VCs. As a result, we get a lot of feedback along the way, which undoubtedly helps us grow as a business.
As part of our process, we empower people to give back by donating a small percentage of their bank fee savings into good causes. It’s incredibly compelling and we’ve already removed 3 million bottles from the ocean and planted over 100,000 trees. We also opened up the platform to enable other organisations to issue debit cards to their members, based on the same Currensea premise of those cards working with existing bank accounts. A particular theme I love has been enabling charities to issue branded cards, which allow members to donate back a portion of either foreign exchange fee savings or roundup in the UK. Outside of Currensea, we’re delighted to see an increasing number of other FinTechs creating sustainable services where they can give back as well, building lasting businesses for the future.
Looking to raise funds through the crowd?
Apply to raise on Seedrs here and our team of fundraising experts will be in touch.