The startup, headquartered in Australia, fashions itself as a peer-to-peer marketplace, similar to Transferwise. Reuben So, founder of Marcopolee, says it’s free to exchange currency through the platform, with no commission fees built in.
He believes that’s a powerful differentiator to rival startups.
In Singapore, it’ll lock horns with Get4X, which launched in May and provides real-time currency exchange rates from nearby moneychangers.
How the new app works is fairly straightforward. Let’s say Singaporean resident Terry has just come back from a trip to the US and he has US$350 in excess cash. He creates a listing on Marcopolee to exchange it for SGD. Another resident, Teresa, is planning on travelling to the US next month so she scours the listings and finds Terry’s. They arrange a time to meet and the transaction takes place.
Afterwards, they’ll be prompted to write a review about their experience.
Reuben says the exchange rate is determined in two ways. Customers can create listings that float with a live rate that’s updated hourly. There’s also an option to lock in a rate at the time of listing.
“A floating listing ensures members never miss out, and always get the most up to date exchange rate; whereas locking your exchange rate ensures you know what you’re getting in return for your cash upfront,” he explains.
The core P2P service will remain free forever. The startup plans on monetizing at some point – through arbitrage trading and priority services – but that’s still some time away. For now Reuben’s focusing on expanding the user base, disrupting existing players, and providing a neat experience overall.
After Singapore, Reuben says the plan is to launch in India, Hong Kong, and finally in their home country, Australia. He doesn’t disclose active users, but says there’s “hundreds of listings” in Singapore already, with organic listings popping up in places like Malaysia.
“People love the service and are now only starting to realize how odd a concept it is to be purchasing currency to begin with,” he beams.
Marcopolee is still bootstrapped – the team’s only now starting to reach out to VCs to fund the next stage of growth. But Reuben believes there’s massive potential – he indicates the size of the global foreign exchange market to be roughly US$5.3 trillion a day.
“Banks, money changers and FX agencies can charge anywhere between 4-16 percent off each exchange […] we hope to provide locals and travelers with a better, smarter way to exchange currency – amongst themselves,” explains Reuben.
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