SINGAPORE – Mobile wallet company YouTrip announced on Thursday (May 16) that it has raised US$25.5 million (S$34.9 million) in its first funding round, becoming the latest financial technology (fintech) start-up here to benefit from heightened investor interest in recent months.
Participating investors include private investment entities and venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners.
The funding will be used to drive YouTrip’s expansion in South-east Asia. The multi-currency e-wallet was launched here last August in collaboration with electronic payment system provider and travel card issuer EZ-Link.
“We are targeting to go live in one or two South-east Asian countries within the next six to 12 months, and are investing heavily to build localisation teams for (these markets),” said YouTrip co-founder and chief executive officer Caecilia Chu.
“We are also investing in the development of new product features that fit the lifestyle of the Asian traveller.”
YouTrip comes with a contactless stored value Mastercard which enables users to pay in over 150 currencies when overseas or shopping online at more than 30 million Mastercard merchants worldwide.
It offers exchanges rates comparable to those listed on Google and other financial sites, which are usually lower than what is offered by banks and money changers.
Users top up their e-wallets with up to S$3,000 using any credit or debit card through the YouTrip mobile app, which also allows for the exchange and storage of 10 selected currencies.
It does not charge any currency conversion or transaction fees, which can run up to 3.5 per cent of transaction amounts for typical credit or debit cards.
The company derives its revenue from merchants who pay a commission for each purchase made with YouTrip.
Ms Chu said the YouTrip app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times in Singapore since launch, but declined to reveal the number of users. YouTrip has 70 employees in offices here and in Hong Kong.
Ms Chu and co-founder and chairman Arthur Mak are based in Hong Kong, but opted to launch the product here because of “tremendous” support from partners like EZ-Link.
“As a new fintech product, the number one issue we faced was gaining trust from consumers. The partnership with EZ-Link (a subsidiary of the Land Transport Authority), which has been in payments for more than a decade, really helped us in terms of credibility,” she said.
In a crowded e-payments market that already features big players like the local banks, Grab and Alibaba, YouTrip’s strategy has been to specialise.
“We have no plans to become a super-app that is everything to everyone. We are extremely focused on good, competitive exchange rates for travellers,” said Ms Chu.
Fintech investments in Singapore more than doubled to hit US$365 million last year from US$180 million in 2017, according to a report from consulting firm Accenture.
Mr Pachara Lawjindakul, principal at Insignia Ventures Partners, said: “The fintech space in South-east Asia is developing at a relentless pace to meet evolving consumer expectations and the travel industry represents an immense untapped market at the intersection of this growth.
“YouTrip is led by experienced founders who are perfectly positioned to capitalise on this opportunity.
“The success of the initial launch in Singapore provides a great foundation to develop a strong roadmap for growing the multi-currency and cross-border payments ecosystem in South-east Asia.”
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