Christian Teo, founder of MoneyBay, a local currency exchange application is determined to serve the travellers community and bring improvements to money exchange operators in the local market and neighbouring countries as well.
Providing a platform via mobile apps for users to search for nearest money changers and rates offered, MoneyBay has currently secured a total of 40 partners spread across 109 locations in just two months. Moving forward, Teo is aiming to achieve 100 partners by end of the year.
“We will be targeting South East Asia because when we look at where Malaysians are going to for travelling destinations; this is the region where most local people are visiting. Of course, cost will be easier to manage compared with other regions or countries such as China and Europe,” Teo says.
To be more specific, he also points out that the group is targeting Australia, Thailand and Singapore for their overseas expansion.
As for their progress so far, Teo says MoneyBay will be available in iOS by the end of the month. “By the end of the year, the app will be available throughout whole country as some of our users have branches in East Malaysia. Currently, our partners are spread out across Penang, Johor, Melaka, Sabah and also the Klang Valley,” he adds.
To widen its selection of offerings, the group is also looking to East Malaysia to secure more partners. “The targeted number of partners is to reach 100 by end of the year. We did 40 (109 locations) in two months and we still have six months to go, so I am pretty confident that we will be able to achieve that goal,” Teo says.
Currently, the group is competing with Currenseek, a similar app launched by ASEAN’s first equity crowdfunding platform operator, CrowdPlus.asia and funded by Cradle Funds, a Malaysian government agency which helps pre-seed start-ups late last year.
There are over 300 companies involved in the money exchange business in Malaysia and this indicates the potential of merchants to expand its coverage for partnership. In the next two to three months, Money Bay is targeting 10,000 to 20,000 users to sign up and hopefully 50,000 users by the end of the year.
Funds to sustain the group over next twelve months
Despite the optimistic projection of the company’s outlook, MoneyBay is currently operating on a bootstrap model and Teo admits that the start-up is under a tight schedule to raise funds and put together the whole operations under expansion plan, However, Teo says the company is in early talks with another angel investor company at the moment while simultaneously structuring possible revenue models.
“Right now we are not charging anyone for the services but we are still considering various revenue models where charging commissions for each transaction is one of the possible models or also by charging advertising fees,” he says.
As part of the strategy to enhance MoneyBay’s competitive advantage, Teo says the group will introduce delivery services as part of their premium services in the near term. “We need to expand the team in order to look for more funding and improve the operations chain to minimise the risk involved. Competition might get stiffer in the future but our focus on maintaining relationship with partners will be our competitive advantage,” he says.
The main concern for foreign exchange transaction is always on security and Money Bay claims that it will monitor tightly and take necessary steps to ensure its compliance with regulations.
To increase security, Teo believes online payments can help to improve the situation. “Cash transactions have always been a high concern where fraud can happen easily. Through online payment, although we cannot solve the issue immediately, however, it is more secure for users to use with all transactions clearly recorded,” he adds.
In it for the long run
It is not unusual norm for entrepreneurs to develop or create a startup just to sell it off for a one-off substantial payment; Teo refuses to pursue this agenda and says he is in the business for the long run.
“I know a lot of startups aim to flip their business after they manage the operations and start generating decent performance. But we are in this business for the long term and creating value in the both social and business community is our main goal. The focus of the company will continue to be the travellers and people that need money exchange services,” he claims.
On the barriers and challenges faced during the initial period, Teo notes that there were a lot of trust issues and skepticism they needed to overcome in the first place. However those merchants realised that they needed to improve their business model as many of them were suffering of lowered revenue.
“For them to consider using an online platform to reach out for more customers is quite hard while some are already familiar with their own systems will find it somewhat difficult to trust a new system as well,” he explains.
Despite the odds, Teo believes he is on the right track to achieve MoneyBay’s goals of by nailing each milestone based on their tight schedule. “For now, our next immediate goal is to have the online payment system fully operational,” he says.