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WeSwap is the world’s first peer to peer travel money platform. Using the WeSwap app and Prepaid MasterCard®, travellers can skip the banks and bureaux and simply swap currency direct with other travellers – all at transparent rates and at a fraction of the typical cost.
Over 200,000 travellers have already joined us to change the way travel money is done, and we welcomed over 55,000 new swappers to the community this summer alone. Since January 2016 over £25 million has been exchanged through our platform to date and we’ve seen our volumes grow on average 24% month on month.
Now that we’ve built the technology platform, gained traction and proven the revenue model, we’re set to support further growth. Our focus for 2017 is expansion into new and existing markets to take cheaper, fairer travel money to travellers everywhere, and continuing to develop our product. We’re already talking to banking partners to take us into markets such as Asia in 2017.
We’re striving to remove all the hassle and smoke and mirrors normally associated with currency exchange, by reshaping an industry that has seen little innovation in decades.
We created WeSwap to make travel money cheap, fair and transparent for ordinary travellers everywhere.
WeSwap came about because our founder and CEO Jared recognised that the traditional way of doing travel money was broken.
Banks, bureaux and other traditional currency providers were charging people a fortune to exchange their money and there was nothing travellers could do about it. In 2015 alone, UK consumers lost over £1 billion in high holiday money rates, overseas cash withdrawals and card purchases abroad.
Inspired by a recurring scenario at the airport in which Jared would pass colleagues going to the country he’d just come from – the WeSwap idea was born. If travellers heading in opposite directions could just swap their travel money directly, everyone could get a better deal.
So we built the technology. WeSwap’s peer-to-peer platform and app allows travellers to swap currency directly with each other at the real interbank rates. We organise the swap automatically, so all our travellers need to do is spend.
Sourcing currency from people and not banks reduces operational costs for us, gives us efficiency advantages over the competition, and means travellers get a much better deal. We have nothing to hide, so all our rates and fees are crystal clear too.
Ultimately we believe every traveller should be swapping currency instead of buying it from a bank. Our research shows that at scale most of the major travel markets show almost exact alignment between travel money flows. We believe we can reshape the industry completely.
Substantial accomplishments to date
We piloted our platform in late 2013, fully launching in the summer of 2015. Here are some of our accomplishments:
- Built a world first - a robust and scalable peer to peer travel money platform. Over £25 million has been exchanged through the platform this year alone.
- Acquired over 200,000 customers, while reducing our customer acquisition costs by 80%.
- Grown trading volumes on average 24% month on month between January and August 2016
- Agreed distribution deals with Hotels.com, National Geographic, Skyscanner and Cheapflights.
- Grown from 6 supported currencies in 2015 to 18 today.
- Raised more than £10M from VC investors to accelerate our product development and growth.
- This year generated coverage on the BBC, ITV, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Lonely Planet, The Sun and many more.
We currently generate revenue equal to 2% of our platform volumes. Our revenues come from our swap fees (1-1.4%), fees for ATM usage over £200 (£1.50) and a percentage of interchange – the fee charged to merchants by MasterCard when the card is used.
We are also currently piloting new revenue streams and expect to have clear results by the end of the year. As we grow across markets and prove new revenue streams we plan to drive down the cost of currency to our travellers even more.
We are committed to offering great value to our users for many years to come. The best way for us to meet this commitment is to build a sustainable, profitable business. As we identify new ways of generating revenue we promise to drive down the cost of currency to our customers - all the way to zero.
Use of proceeds
Being powered by everyday travellers has been key to our success so far, and we intend to keep it that way. Along with raising investment to help fund our growth, our main purpose in raising through Seedrs is to give our users the chance to share in our success and involve them even more in building our product.
We'll use this money to:
> Develop new features: we’ve built a unique technology platform, but our mission is to make travel money frictionless and amazing. We'll be making life easier with features like Apple Pay, automated payments, instant transaction feedback, location-aware help & tips and more. Investment will be used to accelerate the development of these.
> Market Expansion: increasing our marketing activity across Europe, as well as launching in one Asian market.
> Launch new product lines: we have a number of new product lines scheduled to launch next year, including a new business product, currently projected for Q2 2017.
The Company currently has an outstanding loan of £205,000 from existing shareholders. The proceeds of this investment round are not intended to be used to repay this loan.
In addition to the crowdfunding raise, WeSwap may seek additional external investment in the coming months. The intention is to raise up to £4m in total, which will allow the Company to execute its current business plan to facilitate growth into profitability. In addition, a debt facility of up to £1.6m has already been agreed with Ascot Capital, one of the Company's existing shareholders, to be available to WeSwap subject to certain conditions.
Our current focus is on holiday travellers, who represent the most significant proportion of the travel money market. Within this, we have proved successful at attracting travellers from a variety of segments and we plan to continue to target this market.
The majority of our travellers (50-60%) are older millennials (28-35 year olds), but we also have a significant proportion of families taking a few big trips a year, older empty nesters and 18 year olds travelling with friends. All are fed up with unclear fees and rates and need a cheap and stress free way to spend abroad.
Next year, we also plan to target business travellers – enabling savings to be made on business travel spend and solving pain points like receipt submission, managing expense claims and reimbursement.
We’re also doing research into supporting students studying abroad, who often struggle to open a bank account and access currency cheaply and quickly.
Characteristics of target market
Travellers exchange billions of dollars across the globe each year. In 2014, travel money spend globally was estimated to be in excess of £500bn.
More often than not travellers will use a variety of methods to pay abroad – taking cash before a trip and supplementing it with credit and debit cards abroad. In the UK, a significant proportion of total travel cash is still exchanged in airports.
Behaviour across Europe varies by market, but they still use the same methods in varying degrees. In many regions of the world, the travel money market remains completely offline.
Whatever method travellers use, ultimately they are buying currency from a bank. One consistent message from all of our research is that travellers find currency exchange confusing, opaque and an unwelcome hassle - no-one quite knows if they’re getting a good deal, but are aware that they’re probably not.
We believe the only way to change this in the long term is to disintermediate and fundamentally change the model for the market.
This year we’ve made great progress signing up users across a variety of channels at what we consider to be low cost. We will continue to use cost effective digital, social, mobile channels in tandem with key travel partnerships and PR to drive customer acquisition in the UK.
We have also signed distribution deals with key travel businesses which we expect will allow us to scale overseas quickly and efficiently.
We plan to leverage these relationships and expand the reach of existing digital channels to expand internationally and capture further swap corridors.
The market is fragmented and localised, with few global players. Despite all the innovations in travel and finance, currency providers still tend to operate the same business model, user experience and marketing approach.
Consistent characteristics are:
High cost of doing business – they have big expensive leases for properties in airports and on major high streets.
Lack of digital offering – whether buying cash from a bureaux or bank, the experience is often off-line and rarely mobile.
Expensive for the customer – With so many costs to cover, the major incumbents are very pricey.
Lack of transparency – The rates are often confusing. Customers are unsure of how much they are really paying.
Volumes matter, not customers – Incumbents count transactions rather than individuals. They build systems for transactions only and not for customer engagement.
While the above applies to the major banks and bureaux we are seeing some exciting digital money businesses emerge. Its critical that we stay ahead of these too.
Our competitor strategy is as follows:
Focus on the swap – We're rebuilding travel money from the ground up with swapping at the centre. This gives our business cost and efficiency advantages over the competition. Ultimately we expect that this will allow us to build a profitable travel money business.
Travel money. That’s it – We're not a digital bank dabbling in travel money. We're focused purely on this huge market. Our opportunity is to develop products that support our customers throughout the whole travel experience.
Growth – We intend to continue to grow rapidly through our digital travel partners. They allow us to scale globally without leases and buildings in every country. Each partner gives us access to large numbers of travelling customers through exclusive deals.
Technology – We build for scale. We don’t have legacy systems to maintain. We have built WeSwap from scratch with global scalability always at the front of our minds.