New take on currency exchange with person to person online service

Published:  14 Jan at 6 PM
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A new internet start-up, launches three months ago, is bringing person-to-person currency exchange to expat travellers as well as their business counterparts.

WeSwap is the brainchild of ex-corporate financial advisor Simon Sacerdoti and former currency trader Jared Jesner. It’s the world’s first person-to-person currency exchange service and charges just a one per cent flat fee.

Cutting out traditional forms of currency exchange such as banks and bureaux de change outlets, the website allows matching of outbound and inbound travellers in six currencies. Once registered, users are issued with a WeSwap Mastercard, onto which spending money can be loaded in any one of the available currencies.

The card is used as a debit card during travels, and can also be used to withdraw cash at ATMs.The charge of one percent on top of the current interbank lending rate is made on anonymous swaps arranged via the website’s social network and, if a match isn’t made, the company itself with swap at 1.5 per cent.

Already, the start-up has a considerable number of users, many of whom use its facilities to purchase goods online from overseas sellers. For travellers, any unused foreign currency can be swapped back once the trip is over.

The scheme took three years' work to arrive at its launch, and is backed by seed funding of £2 million. All transactions are ensured by a tie-up with an issuing bank, and its founders are planning to set up partnerships with top players in industry in order to provide added benefits to its users as well as to extend the reach of the brand.

The only drawback to date has been the seven to ten days it takes to issue the Mastercard, making it a work in progress rather than a top-up just before your flight is called. On the positive side, once the card has been received it can be topped up in minutes.
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