ExTravelMoney, a Startup Proposing Super Low Forex Rates
“At any time, for a tuition remittance equivalent to 30,000 USD that is wired, our customers could typically save around Rs. 25,000 compared to bank rates.”
They received a seed fund of Rs 25 Lakhs from Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). ExTravelMoney.com is a fintech startup founded in December, 2014 by four cofounders, George Zachariah, Ajin Baby, Ashwin Narasimha and Nisanth Issac. Here Nisanth Isaac, also the CMO for ExTravelMoney discusses the ins and outs of the startup.
Tell us about this new ventures of yours
Our company is an online aggregator service for money exchange houses. It allows customers to search for and compare exchange rates offered by various money changers and place an order for money transfer abroad, perform currency exchange or buy a forex travel card, all online.
Our customers can transfer money abroad for overseas education, medical expenses, maintenance of a close relative etc. We also facilitate gift remittances under which any person within India can send money to any other person outside the country with the only KYC requirement being the PAN card and a valid photo ID of the person sending the money.
How was it started?
ExTravelMoney is actually the short form we created for "Exchange your Travel Money". But people started reading it as ‘Extra Travel Money’. At first we used to correct them. Now we don't, because it actually conveys the idea better.
Ajin, Ashwin and I were working on a tech startup Veeble which we started during our college days. George was a mutual friend of ours who had quit banking and was running a forex store of his own. ExTravelMoney was born out of a casual chat when Ajin landed at George's forex store to collect the travel card for his Amsterdam trip. When Ajin explained the difficulty in going after foreign exchange when there is not much time left for him to fly, George shared the idea of taking his store online. We started working on it and the idea later evolved into an online marketplace which can serve the whole of India.
What are unique services you offer?
- Customers can freeze the rate of the forex transaction right from the comfort of their homes.
- He/She can then opt for store pick up or door delivery of the forex product.
- Our forex experts would educate the customer on forex limits and required KYC documents etc.
- Customers can rate the chosen money changer based on the service received.
Why should a customer choose your service over the many fintechs out there?
The remarkable thing about ExTravelMoney.com is that we follow a marketplace model empowering customers. They can search for a RBI approved money changer at their place and compare the exchange rates offered and are not just tied down to one option. Each exchange house is given a rating on the basis of customer reviews, ratings etc.
We have tied up with major exchange houses in India such as Muthoot Forex, Spice Money, Orient Exchange, Paul Merchants and BFC Forex along with more than 4,000 stores within its kitty. These stores are present all over India and cover metros like Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune and popular travel destinations like Goa, Kerala & Jaipur. By going online, currency exchange houses also benefit as they have an extra platform to get customers.
Being a marketplace, every exchange house here competes with each other. At any time, for a tuition remittance equivalent to 30,000 USD that is wired, our customers could typically save around Rs. 25,000 compared to bank rates. When it comes to currencies, commissions at airport can go as high as 15% but at extravelmoney.com, our partner money changers usually charge less than 2%.
Few months back, we received a seed fund of Rs. 25 Lakhs from Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). Looking to raise the next round soon.
The service is completely free for customers to use. We charge absolutely zero commission and no hidden charges either. Customers pay directly to the chosen exchange house and they receive an invoice for the entire amount. However, we do charge a small fee from the money changers for the leads provided.
We have completed transactions worth INR 12 Crore and have more than 10,000 registered users.
We are in talks with some of the leading banks in India and are expected to come on board soon. Expanding to Middle East and Southeast Asia is also on cards.
We have developed a B2B portal for travel agents and overseas education consultants. Here the travel agents or the consultants can book foreign exchange or remittance orders on behalf of their customer. This referral program will soon prove to be an additional income for the travel agents.
In the beginning, it was very difficult to convince the exchange houses. Bringing all the competitors on one platform was a challenging task. But as leads started coming in they began to support us very well. Things have changed. Our partner exchange houses are so competitive to the extent that we now have to explain to our customers why the rates are so low.
Is this a promising market? Tell us about the market size and opportunity in money exchanging.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, total outbound travel and tourism expenditure from India amounted to USD 15.4 billion in the year 2015.
The RBI says outward remittance from India under the Liberalized Remittance Scheme has been growing steeply for the last 5 years and touched USD 208 billion in the financial year 2014-15.
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