An interview with the Head of Digital Acquisition at Currensea, Wilson Woo about how the travel card startup has harnessed open banking to challenge the strong-hold that banks have on spending abroad.
G: How did the Currensea card come about?
W: The inspiration behind Currensea came in 2017 when our two Founders, James Lynn and Craig Goulding sat down after coming back from their family summer holidays, both have been burned by charges on their international payments.
James, with a long background in Forex and building electronic trading platforms, and Craig, a former CTO of Investment Banking at JPMorgan and the chief engineer of Open Banking across the UK’s largest retail bank, felt there had to be a better way.
G: What problem does Currensea solve?
W: The need was to find a solution to spending abroad that didn’t involve absurd currency exchange commissions that the incumbent banks are charging.
And so the concept of Currensea was born, it’s a multi-currency card that connects straight to an existing bank account but eliminates bank exchange rate charges without having to worry about topping up a pre-paid card or opening up a new bank account.
Currensea has achieved a worldwide first, by using open banking to create a layer over a customer’s existing high street bank accounts, providing them with the benefits of a challenger bank but keeping the convenience of their existing bank relationship.
G: You are up against a variety of other foreign travel payment options. How important has a strong brand and messaging been in setting you apart?
W: It is super important to have a strong brand and messaging. Especially in the travel money card industry that is saturated with banks, the Post Office, and travel and prepaid providers all wanted to have a slice of the market share.
The key to success is finding the market gap, truly understanding what customers need, and creating a product that provides a solution for them.
For us, our product is to help customers save at least 85% on high-street bank fees and charges on every transaction they spend abroad, without needing to top up or open a new bank account. That is the messaging we use across all channels including internal communications.
G: You have nearly 2,000 positive reviews on your website; how essential is customer feedback in terms of both customer acquisition and product development?
W: It is essential to listen to our customers. We value both positive and negative feedback from our customers. We appreciate positive reviews and comments, it validates what we are doing and motivates everyone at Currensea to provide even better products and services for our customers.
Happy customers are our best marketers. Over the last 6 months, with travel bouncing back, we have seen a significant increase in new customer acquisition through referrals from existing customers.
Negative feedback is equally important, it implies that our customers were expecting more from us, and it tells us what we need to improve or change, in order for us to tailor our products and services to their needs.
G: What tips would you give to other tech disruptors out there who have a new product to launch?
W: Getting the MVP right is crucial. It is a balancing act to get to the market quickly with a minimum viable product. To do that, the best is to keep the MVP as simple as possible. Very often, it isn’t about having more features, it is about making sure the key feature(s) helps solve the strongest pain point(s) of the potential customers they identified.
Whilst it is important to get the product and features right, the overall customer experience shouldn’t be overlooked, from the moment they click on one of the ads or find their way to the company website.
The interactions between the customers and the company provide valuable opportunities to gather feedback and insights to help fine-tune the product.
G: Thank you Wilson, Currensea is a great example of how a tech innovation such as open banking can enhance customer experience. When creating the MVP, concentrating on the most noticeable pain points and taking positive and negative client feedback into account are both highly effective strategies.
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