Investments

Singapore Payments Startup YouTrip Raises $25.5M For Apac Expansion

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Singaporean multi-currency payments app YouTrip has raised $25.5 million in a pre-Series A funding round, the company announced on Thursday (May 16).

Venture capital firm Insignia Ventures Partners, founded by ex-Sequoia partner Yinglan Tan, participated in the fundraising round, among others.

YouTrip, which also offers a prepaid Mastercard for frequent travelers, was started in August of 2018. The YouTrip wallet lets users pay in more than 150 currencies without hidden fees, and at wholesale exchange rates. Bank-backed cards generally charge up to 3.5 percent for card purchases overseas.

Customers can store 10 currencies in advance through the app’s exchange feature. The app has been downloaded 200,000 times and processed more than a million transactions.

The company has a team of 70 people working in Singapore and Hong Kong, and it wants to expand throughout Southeast Asia and its population of more than 650 million people. The region is expected to generate $80 billion in outbound travel spending by 2020, an increase of $13 billion from 2018.

As a frequent traveler, “I was surprised with how much banks mark up on overseas transactions — this was among the many reasons why I started YouTrip,” YouTrip Co-Founder and CEO Caecilia Chu said in the announcement. “As the regional travel industry continues to post robust growth, YouTrip recognises the pain points of travelers and equally, the immense opportunity to better serve their financial needs.”

In other Singapore news, Singapore’s financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), was recently in talks about letting online banks operate in the city.

According to a report in Bloomberg citing the regulator, MAS is looking at whether or not to let digital-only banks with a non-bank parent operate.

“We have been engaging relevant stakeholders to ascertain the unique value that such entrants could bring to our banking landscape, and understand how potential risks will be managed and contained,” the regulator said in an email statement to the news outlet.  

The regulator went on to say the banking industry in Singapore has been embracing digitization, with local lenders allowed to launch digital-only businesses since 2000. The report noted that DBS Group, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank have digital offerings and compete against local FinTechs and foreign banks who operate in the region.

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