Cashless society, e-wallet concept. Man hand holding a smartphone, using mobile application to pay for his drink at the cashier. (Shutterstock/NATA FUANGKAEW)
YouTrip, the provider of a multi-currency travel wallet service in Asia, thinks it could be a beneficiary of Thailand’s high-flying baht.
The baht’s climb spurs foreign-exchange demand by encouraging Thais to travel and shop abroad, YouTrip’s Chief Executive Officer Caecilia Chu said in an interview in Bangkok. The company rolled out its service in Singapore last year and in Thailand this month.
“This is the best time to enter the market,” Chu said. “People want to buy things outside of Thailand because the currency is so strong.”
YouTrip offers a multi-currency travel e-wallet with a prepaid Mastercard. Users charge up the wallet from their smartphones. The card lets travelers pay overseas with no fees in 150 currencies at wholesale exchange rates, according to the firm.
The service is trying to disrupt a sector that can involve either time-consuming, cash-heavy trips to money changers, or the use of traditional bank cards with fees and exchange-rate markups.
The firm’s revenue comes from commissions paid by merchants for purchases using the card.
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The Thai baht has appreciated more than 9% against the dollar in the past year, the most in emerging markets, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The jump has hurt the trade-led Thai economy, which is on course for the weakest growth in 2019 in five years.
The slowdown could crimp outbound tourism temporarily but many analysts see long-term potential. Chu said about 11 million Thais go overseas for holiday each year, spending an estimated 400 billion baht ($13.2 billion).
She aims to sign up 400,000 Thai customers in the first year. The “untapped opportunity” stems from the fact they undertake foreign-exchange transactions in cash, Chu said.
YouTrip, which also has a base in Hong Kong, plans to expand into at most two more Southeast Asian markets over the next year, Chu said. The firm raised S$25.5 million ($18.7 million) in funding in May.
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