The saying ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ well illustrates the tale of TravelersBox kiosk, an unprecedented invention that makes every single penny count. Launched a couple of years ago, the innovation is gradually expanding, and is enabling more travellers to deposit their leftover foreign coins into their preferred online accounts.
This first-of-its-kind service allows travellers to convert foreign currency into usable digital currency at airports itself, and eases them of carrying the burden of loose currency with them.
In an exclusive interaction with Retail360Asia bureau, CEO and co-founder Tomer Zussman speaks about the invention and how it is enhancing the travellers’ experience.
Excerpts of the interview are as follows…
Who’s brainchild is TravelersBox?
For a few years, I was working in NYC while still living in Israel. Commuting back and forth constantly was inevitable and each trip added another pile of spare change. After a while, I was stuck with thousands of loose change with no clue how to get rid of it. After knowing that there are 1.5 Billion international travellers who face the same challenge each year, the idea of TravelersBox came up, and I launched it in 2012.
How does TravelersBox work?
It is an ATM-like kiosk that we have installed in different airports across diferent parts of the globe. These machines take foreign coins or bills and convert them into digital currency — e-Wallets, Gift Cards, donations, etc. for spending it later.
What is the idea behind creating TravelersBox?
The idea is to give the user the opportunity to enjoy an otherwise unused money. By converting it back to usable digital currency, we are able to obtain the full value of our money.
What is the challenge that TravelersBox addresses?
Most of the travellers face one similar problem i.e. figuring out how to utilize the unused currency? This challenge, that every traveller faces, made way for TravelersBox. With the service, the traveler is able to obtain the entire value of his unused money.
Are there any initial challenges that you are facing at the moment?
Initially, handling cash and airports, regulations are always a challenge we’re facing. However, after years in the business coupled with ample experience that we possess, we have come to a point where we feel comfortable expanding and growing exponentially.
Another challenge is the multi-cultural marketing. Basically we need to market to different nationalities at the same time, while taking into consideration that the user has very little time in front of our kiosk. There is no ‘global’ way to market, and trying to find the best way to reach them all is a huge challenge.
How have you integrated technology for smoother operations?
The deposit process is completely smooth and seamless for the user. Basically, our technology offers an automated conversion from real physical money, into a digital one. The user simply deposits funds, and receives it back into his online account.
Naturally, to be able to do that, we needed to develop a very complex mechanism that would recognize different types of currencies with both coins and bills. That, and our integration with many partners, includes a very complicated technology.
Whom have you partnered with for the currency delineation?
We have many partners – from different e-wallets (PayPal, Baidu, Yandex, etc.) to Gift Cards and Pre Paid (iTunes, Skype, Visa, MasterCard, etc.) to different donation causes.
Where all are you present at the moment and where do you plan to expand?
TravelersBox currently has more than 75 kiosks in Italy, Canada, the Philippines, Japan, Georgia, Israel and Turkey, with future installation in Singapore and other major airports throughout Asia.
How do you plan to maximize its usage by the travellers?
We monitor our kiosks usage and learn about our users habits every single day. From these statistics we get to improve the service all the time – add new products, tweak the process and giving better and better rates. Maximizing the usage is an ongoing process we take very seriously.
Which all currencies are you embarking upon presently?
We accept every major coin there is.
What is the cost of setting up one TravelersBox station?
We cannot share internal business information, but we can say that the cost includes installing the kiosk, maintaining and logistics and of course, agreements with airports.
How big is the global currency exchange market and what is the percentage of Asian countries?
There are 1.5 Billion international travellers per year, each one of them comes back with an average of 35 USD, which makes it a 52B market. We calculated that 70 per cent of it is spent in Asia.
What kind of revenues are you expecting from this market?
Out of the 52B market, we are expecting a good return out of it.