08 August 18 The Business Times by JACQUELYN CHEOK
EZ-Link on Tuesday said it has taken a step into fintech with the launch of YouTrip, a mobile wallet that allows users to pay in over 150 currencies when abroad without any fees.
YouTrip is developed by EZ-Link in partnership with Mastercard and Hong Kong-based mobile payments startup You Technologies Group.
Nicholas Lee, chief executive officer of EZ-Link, said the company is "excited" to create an e-wallet designed for travelling.
He told The Business Times: "Today, ez-link cards can only be used in Singapore, as will our new e-wallet EZ-Link. YouTrip - which is built on the EZ-Link e-wallet - is an alternative EZ-Link e-wallet that lets users use it here and overseas."
To use the service, users first download the YouTrip app and top up their e-wallets with a debit or credit card for up to S$3,000. They can then convert any amount in their e-wallets from one currency to another, with just a few taps on their smartphones.
YouTrip currently supports no-fee overseas transactions in over 150 currencies. It comes with a physical, contactless Mastercard credit card that is issued by EZ-Link and You Technologies Group, which lets users pay at the more than 30 million Mastercard merchants worldwide.
With YouTrip, users will not incur fees typically charged for currency exchange at banks or money changers and in overseas bank card transactions, as well as online currency conversion and transaction fees typically incurred for cross-border payments.
YouTrip's SmartExchange technology also allows users to use leftover currencies to transact in any of the over 150 currencies during their next trip or in Singapore. That is, the app will automatically convert leftover currencies at wholesale exchange rates at no additional fees for users to complete transactions whenever there is insufficient balance for the transacting currencies.
Kelvin Lam, country manager for Singapore at You Technologies Group, told BT that YouTrip uses foreign exchange (forex) rates that are determined by You Technologies Group's own forex platform.
"We look across the market and monitor various sources such as banks to derive the best rates."
Mr Lam added that YouTrip was created to solve the traveller's dilemma of whether to make payments by cash or card when overseas.
He said: "YouTrip allows one to easily obtain and pay in foreign currency by card without having to go to the moneychanger or bank."
If a certain overseas merchant only accepts cash, users can make cash withdrawals at ATMs with their YouTrip cards for a fee of S$5.
Notably, YouTrip users can use the app to "maximise savings" by monitoring live forex rates on the go and instantly exchange and store up to 10 selected currencies in their wallets at their preferred rates, with no additional fees or mark-ups.
The 10 wallet currencies are Singapore dollar (SGD), Hong Kong dollar (HKD), Japanese yen (JPY), Australian dollar (AUD), New Zealand dollar (NZD), euro (EUR), pound sterling (GBP), Swiss franc (CHF), US dollar (USD) and Swedish krona (SEK).
Mr Lam noted that forex hedging would not be the main purpose of the app. "YouTrip is focused on consumer behaviour, not investment behaviour. There are better platforms out there for forex hedging."
The YouTrip app will provide instant notification upon every transaction, and allow instant card deactivation when the linked Mastercard is lost or misplaced.
Deborah Heng, country manager for Mastercard Singapore, said: "As the appetite for travel continues to grow, having an on-the-go multi-currency payment option will better serve travellers' needs, and make for a more rewarding travel experience."
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