Can you tell us about WeSwap – who can use it and how is it different from other currency exchanges?
Simon: WeSwap harnesses the power of peer-to-peer and brings travellers a fast, accessible and simple solution for getting best value foreign currency. By allowing travellers to swap their currency with each other, it avoids using expensive bureaus who charge commission on top of the interbank rate. WeSwap is the ideal product for the social media age, offering an alternative way for people to get hold of their foreign currency.
Our end goal is that we want to revolutionise the travel money exchange industry and to become the leaders in travel money across the world. Ultimately, we want to disrupt the currency exchange market and inspire a world where swapping money is the norm.
What was your journey from thinking up the concept to fully establishing the business?
Jared: As a duo, we spotted a gap in the market for a peer-to-peer travel money exchange service and were both frustrated by the huge rates banks and currency exchange bureaus were able to charge consumers.
The WeSwap journey began in my trading days, with the realisation that what we pay for travel money bears very little resemblance to the actual exchange rate traded in the currency markets. So long as chains of companies were in the business of sitting between the travellers who were ultimately spending the money, this couldn’t change. And so the idea for a person to person travel money exchange was born; travellers could provide each other with the currency that they needed at the actual exchange rate.
What struggles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Jared: We’ve had to challenge some pretty entrenched thinking in the world of payments, and persuade some big players that what they believed was impossible was, in fact, possible. It was also important for us to recognise that we needed to work with this regulated industry to go anywhere in this business, adhering to set rules and working with reputable names such as MasterCard to build our reputation.
How do you see the industry evolving?
Simon: In the travel industry, people are always looking to get the best deal to maximise their spending power on holiday. To keep up with this demand, businesses, particularly new start-ups, are looking to concepts such as the ever-growing peer-to-peer market in a bid to deliver the most competitive rates to customers. These days, time is just as important as value, and so new products must offer a solution to both to appeal to a mass market. WeSwap embodies a similar peer-to-peer model, which is a direct response to those customers looking for a fast, accessible and simple travel money solution.
What advice can you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Simon: Build an excellent support network including peers that are at a similar stage of starting up, whatever sector they are in. Hire the best team you can justify for the stage you are at and the funding you have. If you don’t value what you are doing and selling why should anybody else? If possible, don’t undertake the journey alone – the partnership between Jared and myself has been key to our success. We have challenged each other, ensured rigour of thinking, and supported each other in the tough moments.
Jared: Don’t expect your idea to work straight away! It may be brilliant, but in this industry, you will need to wear a thick skin to survive. Challenge is one of the best things about being an entrepreneur and perseverance is your key to success! Don’t be afraid of failure, embrace it and use it as a chance to prove your strength of mind to turn things around.
Editor’s note: WeSwap is still going strong and appears to have become a stable player in the currency space. (1 April 2017)