January 22, 2016
Israel startup TravelersBox, a provider of airport kiosks for saving leftover foreign currency, today announced that it has secured a $10 million Series A round led by Arbor Ventures along with participation from existing investors. The company’s kiosk is actually a box that lets you turn your foreign currency into dollars and euros and then sends the value right to your Paypal, Skype, or Starbucks account. The kiosk also lets you donate the money to a charity organization. Founded by Tomer Zussman, Idan Deshe, and Dror Blumenthal, the company had raised $4.5 million in May 2015 from Global Blue, Yuval Tal, Zohar Gilon, Hagai Tal, and Ehud Levy, alongside Pitango Venture Capital and iAngels in order to expand into more airports. The company is trying to solve the problem of accumulated leftover foreign currency after the end of your foreign trip. Yes, there is no fee to exchange your foreign currency but obviously, the conversion rate will be high and that’s how the company plans to make money.
As part of the new round of Series A funding, Melissa Guzy of Arbor Ventures will join TravelersBox’s board of directors. The new funds will enable TravelersBox to grow, specifically in Asia as its next deployments are expected to be in Japan, India and New Zealand. The company plans to deploy an additional 300 kiosks this year, as reported by Reuters. The publication also reports that the company aims to accelerate product development, including an application that will enable consumers to convert their change into digital currency in their home country when shopping at airport-based retail outlets throughout the world.
While this concept sounds exciting, will the business be successful from a long term point of view? As we talk about cashless societies and its growing popularity, how long are consumers going to use cash? Recently, I made a trip to United Kingdom and India from the United States and didn’t use pounds or Indian rupees anywhere. My American Express credit card was accepted at most retail outlets and restaurants. And at few places where it was not accepted, I used a Wells Fargo Visa debit card. The hustle of exchanging cash, carrying it everywhere and paying the conversion fee is not something that I, as a millennial, will lean towards. I would rather carry a bunch of different credit/debit cards and pay a foreign transaction fee, if it is a short term stay in any foreign country. However one person’s behavior may not predict the success of the business. It is equally true that a 100% cashless society is still a theory and may not even be true in the future. Businesses like Travelersbox may exist for another couple of decades as well.