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Currencies

O2O money changer app Get4x aims to ease Hongkongers' currency exchange woes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 2016, 12:32am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 2016, 12:32am

Singapore-based start-up 4xLabs wants to help Hongkongers get a better exchange rate when changing money to foreign currencies with its online-to-offline app Get4x.

The app, which rolled out in Hong Kong in April, allows users to key in the amount of foreign currency they require. They can then see the different rates charged by various money changers in Hong Kong on a map, complete with location and contact numbers.

4xLabs CEO Julien Labruyere, who hails from France, founded Get4x in Singapore where he is based when he realised that there was no platform that allows users to compare prices for currency exchange.

“During Christmas season in 2011, I wanted to change several thousand euros but did not know which was the best place to change my money. I did not want to get ripped off,” said Labruyere.

“The [money changing industry] struck me as a very neglected market in terms of digitalisation.”

The app now gets about 12,000 unique users each month and has over 30,000 downloads, according to the company. Following the success in Singapore, the app now includes cities like Hong Kong, Mumbai and Bangkok.

“We have over 130 Hong Kong money changers on the platform now,” said Labruyere, adding this amounts to over 10 per cent of the money changers in the city. “We want to capture half of the market within the next six months.”

With the app, users can choose the money changer with the best rate for their desired currency and call up the money changer to make an appointment.

Currently, the app does not allow users to book an appointment with the money changers directly through the app, but that function will be included in two to three weeks. A chat function is also in the pipeline so users can communicate with money changers within the app.

Helping the money exchange industry in Hong Kong to join the online-to-offline industry will also help clean up the market by weeding out money changers who charge disproportionately high prices to customers, the company said.

“The current lack of information makes this market very inefficient, and hurts the end-users who end up paying horrible rates,” said Labruyere.

Get4x does not currently take a cut from any transaction that was facilitated through the app, instead making revenue by offering various software-as-a-service to money changers.

One such example is a service that provides a live foreign exchange rate to money changers on the Get4x platform, which is sold as an annual subscription.

“Previously, most money changers used currency converters found online, such as Yahoo Finance when determining how much currency they want to buy from their supplier,” said Labruyere. “But these rates online are delayed by at least 15 minutes, and so they [never get the best rates].”

The live rates that 4xLabs provides to its money changers helps money changers conduct business more efficiently, said Labruyere.

Get4x has plans to expand its business to all the major Asian cities by the end of 2016, and is also aiming to cover all cities with a major airport globally before the end of next year.