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Homesingapore businessSingapore-based multi-currency app YouTrip raises another US$50 million in funding

Singapore-based multi-currency app YouTrip raises another US$50 million in funding

SINGAPORE: Multi-currency mobile wallet operator YouTrip on Thursday (Oct 26) announced it has raised another US$50 million in funding.

The funds were raised from global venture capital firm Lightspeed for its Series B round. Lightspeed has also invested in Snapchat-owner Snap and tech company Stripe.

YouTrip previously raised US$30 million in 2021 and US$25.5 million in 2019.

Nearly five years after its launch, the Singapore-based app has become operationally profitable, chief executive officer Caecilia Chu told CNA in an interview.

YouTrip now processes US$10 billion in payments annually – comprising money that users spend while travelling overseas, shopping on international sites and corporate spending by small- and medium-size enterprises using YouBiz.

The bulk of the payments processed come from the consumer side of the business.

“It’s important under this current climate to show investors, and even to show ourselves, that we have a solid business model where we can scale in a sustainable manner,” said Ms Chu, noting that companies are trying to be conservative in an uncertain time.

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Ms Chu, who is also the company’s co-founder, said YouTrip has grown 200 per cent year-on-year and reached profitability in April this year.

“In order to raise money in this current climate, you have to do both simultaneously,” she said.

The money will be used to invest in more technologies to improve YouTrip’s products.

Users can soon add their YouTrip cards to Google Pay, and QR code payments are “part of (the) roadmap in the near term”, Ms Chu said.

YouTrip also plans to introduce new features after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) increases the amount of money that can be stored in e-wallets from S$5,000 to S$20,000 (US$3,600 to US$14,600). The 12-month payment limit will also increase from S$30,000 to S$100,000. The changes are slated to happen sometime this year.

“It really opens up a whole lot more opportunities for us to build more features like additional currency wallets, remittance services, more partnerships with merchants and many more features,” she said. Budgeting recommendations and financial insights are also in the works.

MARKET SHARE, EXPANSION PLANS

The CEO said YouTrip’s strategy is to stay consistent and focus on localisation.

“We customise the app and also the card face (design) in every market we go into. So we just don’t take something that works in another part of the world and plug it in here and assume people would like it,” she said.

YouTrip said its market share in Singapore is “quite high”, but declined to reveal specific user numbers for any country.

Expansion in Southeast Asia has been a goal since before COVID-19 struck, but the company could go beyond the region now that it is “well-capitalised” following its Series B fundraising, said Ms Chu.

“What it allows us to do is to also look at some of the international financial hubs that have similar characteristics with Singapore, so we are definitely broadening our minds in terms of where to launch going forward.”

Although YouTrip has diversified into e-commerce and business payments, travel is what has propelled the company’s growth since borders reopened after the pandemic. 

Singaporean users are savvy and have been buying currencies when the rates are good, Ms Chu said. Some hold the currencies for many months before spending it overseas.

“For popular destinations like Japan, people do think they can exchange first and hold it, because no matter what, they will make a trip there,” she said. The US dollar and euro are also popular currencies to hold onto.

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Ms Chu said she believes consumers are moving toward cashless travel, but acknowledged that it remains difficult to completely avoid cash in some places – including Japan and Southeast Asia.

“We cannot make sure that every merchant can accept our card, but what we can do is open up free access (to ATMs),” she said.

“In some markets, we know it’s just not possible to only travel with a card. We still need cash in order to have that peace of mind.”

In June, YouTrip announced that it would waive its S$5 ATM withdrawal fee. Users can withdraw up to S$400 worth of foreign currency from ATMs for free every month, though a 2 per cent fee will be imposed for withdrawals beyond that amount.

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