That awesome ATM for swapping leftover foreign currency goes after Chinese tourists

One of our favorite startups here at Tech in Asia is TravelersBox, which is an ATM-esque contraption at airports that helps you swap all that pesky leftover foreign currency into something useful, like Paypal or iTunes credit, or vouchers for GAP or Starbucks.

The TravelersBox machine is now going after China’s hordes of globe-trotting tourists, who numbered 120 million last year. The figure will be even bigger this year.

Holiday hotspots

In order to get this new audience, TravelersBox co-founder Tomer Zussman and his team have added in support for the mobile wallet created by Baidu, China’s top search engine. So people just feed their unwanted notes and coins into the machine and then they’re converted into Chinese yuan and zapped into their Baidu Wallet accounts…

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How Israel Plans to Disrupt a $4.7 trillion Industry

The digitization of currency presents an incredible opportunity for the world’s incumbent financial institutions, from payment processing to credit and insurance products, wealth management, and currency transfer and exchange. Yet the regulatory, security, and risk management challenges faced by these institutions have paved the way for a flood of new entrants.  In 2015 alone, over $19B was invested in FinTech to disrupt the $4.7T financial services industry.

A successful bank robbery used to require careful planning, orchestration, weaponry, and a bit of luck.  Furthermore, the bank’s maximum loss was limited to its physical assets locked away in the vault. In 2013, Russian cybergang Cabarnak stole $1B from over 100 financial institutions, using nothing more than a few lines of malicious code.  How can today’s financial institutions, encumbered with bureaucracy, legacy systems, and regulatory burdens innovate ahead of tomorrow’s financial reality?

Enter Israel

With domain expertise ranging from enterprise software to information security, business intelligence, and the blockchain, Israel’s brightest engineers, technologists, and data scientists have started applying their knowledge to one of the hottest sectors in the world; FinTech.

Fintech, at its core, is the use of technology to eliminate market inefficiencies. To illustrate, let’s look at one of the biggest money markets in the world today; remittances. Remittances are expected to reach an estimated $610 billion in 2016, rising to $636 billion in 2017. As of the end of 2014, the global average cost of sending $200 was 8%. Let’s think about that for a second. Money is now data, sitting in the cloud, with virtually no cost to disassemble, redistribute, and reassemble. So why does sending $200 still cost $16? Due to the regulatory burdens combating money laundering and terrorism financing, international remittances sent via mobile technology accounted for less than 2% of remittance flows in 2013.  But as mobile phones reach critical mass in the developing world, this will change drastically, and Israeli technology will play a role.

Flavors of Fintech

Now let’s look at an emerging $6.5b market like bitcoin, which processes $110mm in daily transactions, but with pervasive fraud, wire/bank transfers have become the incumbent use case, leading to slow, cumbersome transactions that necessitate minimum purchase requirements. Imagine a system that uses sophisticated algorithms to enable bitcoin exchanges, brokers, and eWallets to accept credit cards with no risk of fraud. Enter Israeli Fintech company Simplex, which has already processed more than $4m in bitcoin purchases via credit card.

Next we have the marketplace lending industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 123% between 2010-2014, projected to grow to $490b globally by 2020. Companies like Lending Club, Zopa, and Prosper have led the charge, but the real innovation will come from inventing new methods of credit underwriting, rather than continuing to price risk using the decades old FICO score. Look at Backed which reverse engineered Lending Club’s underwriting model to discover a huge opportunity in mitigating risks for co-signers, thus reducing APRs for borrowers, or Cinch, which evaluates small business creditworthiness based on a reputation score, rather than the traditional credit score.

Take the $45B in pocket change carried by travelers each year, and turn it into digital currency with TravelersBox. Consider the global payments market expected to grow to $2T by 2020, and Zooz, the only agnostic technology layer that connects to any payment provider and provides business intelligence to benchmark and compare provider performance for enterprises. Finally, combine the global equity markets at an astounding $69 trillion and counting, and throw in eToro, which allows users to track the financial trading activity of top performing users and automatically copy their trades.

Investment Opportunities Abound

There are more than 400 fintech startups in Israel, covering more than a dozen business models, including crowdfunding, money management, financial advisory, banking, wallets, payments, point of sale, currency exchange, virtual currencies, small business funding, retirement, insurance, lending, security, blockchain, security, and investing. And at iAngels, we are seeing them all.

As more banks and financial service companies establish accelerators, R&D centers, and incubators in Israel, the number of investment opportunities will grow in parallel. In 2015, Israeli FinTech exit activity reached $1.3B, up from $700m in 2014, while 47 companies raised $241m. As your trusted partner in Israel, we continue to access and analyze Israel’s highest quality entrepreneurs, providing you with the best FinTech investment opportunities Israel has to offer. Take a deeper dive by browsing through our investment portfolio, here.

Max Marine
Max Marine is an iAngels Investment Analyst. Prior to iAngels, Max was a Junior Partner at Venture1st, providing marketing and communications support to Israeli start-ups. Max passed the three CFA exams consecutively, holds an MS in Investment Management, and a B.B.A. in Finance, Real Estate, and Risk Management and Insurance from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Contact him at [email protected]



TravelersBox Raises $10m Series A

Israel-based TravelersBox, which provides a solution to the pesky foreign currency left in your pocket after a holiday or business trip, announced today that it has closed a US$10 million series A round led by Arbor Ventures. Existing investors including Pitango Venture Capital, IPE Ventures, Pereg Ventures, iAngels, and Global Blue also participated. The startup did not disclose post-money valuation figures.

Through the startup’s kiosks, travelers can deposit their leftover foreign currency and  redeem it for a multitude of things, such as Skype credit, Paypal, Nike gift cards, or charitable donations. In Israel, it’s also possible to process direct bank transfers. There’s no minimum amount necessary.

“There are more than 3 billion international travelers every year, and our mission is to provide an easy way for those travelers to regain the lost value of their unused foreign currency,” said Tomer Zussman, founder and CEO of TravelersBox, in an emailed statement.

TravelersBox kiosks are currently present in Italy, Canada, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, and the Philippines. There’s a range of currencies supported, including US dollar, Euro, British pound, Phillipines peso, Russian ruble, Turkish lira, and Georgian lari.

“What we did in 2015 was a lot of A/B tests,” Dror Blumenthal, chief marketing officer, tellsTech in Asia. “We are finding out about the market from our users. This year will be about applying this understanding and focusing on expansion, with Asia earmarked as a priority.”

TravelersBox is about to open kiosks in Japan, India, and Hong Kong, with Tokyo expected to be live by the end of February. All together the startup plans on deploying 200 new machines globally this year. “We’re pretty excited about 2016, it’s going to be crazy,” adds Dror.


This article originally appeared on Techinasia

5 of the Most Important Things When Founding a Startup

This article was written by Tomer Zussman, Co-Founder and CEO at TravelersBox, that allows travelers to convert leftover foreign currency at the end of their trip into usable digital currency (PayPal, iTunes, Skype, Pre Paid Visa, etc) through easy to use airport based kiosks.

Establishing a startup is tough and challenging, but there are a few principles, that no matter which field you’re working in, you must follow in order to start the company with the right foundations and chance to success.

1. Your first investor is the most important one – Choose well

We’ve all been there, you have this great idea, the presentation is ready, you practiced the pitch perfectly and the only thing left now is cash. From my experience, most of them are very nice and even if they do not invest, in most cases you can get great feedback for your next meeting. I know. It’s tricky and it depends on the momentum of your roadshow but the decision on the first investor will be one of the most important decisions you will make throughout the life of your start up.
Once the money is in, you start dealing with decisions that will affect your chances to succeed dramatically. Having the right person next to you to help you, advice, criticize, show you a different approach and help youngest more money is crucial.

What should you consider when choosing the investor:
• Industry related (You must get the best advisor)
• Previous investments (don’t be shy to ask and even get references)
• Chemistry (like any relationship, if you do not connect, it won’t work)
• Reputation (It is very important to your next investor who is the previous one)
• Personality – are they good people?

2. Don’t do it alone – Share the restless nights

When establishing my first start up, I did it all by myself. This isa great challenge but most certainly a big mistake. Start-ups involve stress, tough decisions, multi tasking and a lot of sleepless nights, endlessly wondering – about what I did todaywhat am I going to do tomorrow and how do I solve all of my R&D, Marketing, Operations and Finance challenges. Doing it by yourself makes it even harder, youfeel alone in the battlefield, and it is indeed a battlefield. Having someone else to help you carry the load is important, it really changes the weight you feel on your shoulders and helps to have a clear mind in order to be creative and motivated.

3. Don’t look back (or sideways), Focus!

Time is of the essence and in most cases you don’t have the amount of money you need in order to get to your next milestone (even when you are positive $1M will take you all the way).

You should run as fast as you can for your next milestone, don’t look back, never stop and don’t get distracted by anything. You will heara bunch of “No”s, “This won’t happen”, “You are crazy trying to achieve this” and more. Set your goal and go for it. Remember, momentum is very important at this point in so many levels.

4. Don’t save your way to Success

I’m not saying throw your money away. You should have a budget and you should try to stick to it.

But, if you discover a way to improve, get sales, bring users or anything else that will get you closer to your next goal – even if it is out of your planned budget – go for it. You received money in order to achieve specific goals.

You’re better off running out of money earlier than planned while you achieve important milestones, rather than presenting your next investors that you kept your budget plans and you are the best in controlling expenses, but have achieved no or few goals…

5. Find the best team possible – ‘A’ players only!

There’s never time to train employees, no time to deal with micro management, and you simply can’t afford hiring and firing at this stage. Every employee you hire must be a Touch Down. Your team will be the one who will help you achieve your goals, without them you are just an entrepreneur… Without your team – nothing will happen. Invest your time to find A players, don’t settle for less than AMAZING. They need to be independent, goal driven and self-motivated. Don’t expect less than you expect from yourself.

Fintech entrepreneur? Here’s a bonus tip for you –

Take your most difficult obstacle and use it as a barrier of entry

Fintech will always involve regulations. If you come up with a revolutionary idea, you will most likely be working in a gray area in regards to regulation and legislation.
As a start up with limited resources, it is always hard to overcome these challenges up to the point that you might be forced to stop your activity or pivot.

Another way to look at is, is to understand how the regulation can be a barrier of entry for your competitors while an open path for you.

It is only when you truly, deeply understand the market and the reasons for the limitations and regulation, that this could be achieved. Coming up with few sophisticated changes (and some brave, but not stupid decisions); you can create a tough barrier to your competitors while you achieve your goals.


This article originally appeared on finance Magnates

TravelersBox named top startup in 2015 by TechInAsia

Congratulations to iAngels’ portfolio company, Travelersbox on being named one of the top 10 startups of 2015 by!

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TravelersBox Converts Leftover Foreign Change Into Gift Cards, PayPal Funds

On average, 8 million people fly around the world every day, and during the holiday peak season which starts on Thanksgiving, the daily number is even higher. When traveling internationally, business travelers and tourists alike are often left with coins of euros, dollars and other currencies they don’t need anymore. But the small change they’re left with after every trip adds up – so, why not put it to work?

Israeli startup TravelersBox has come up with a practical new solution for spare change, which comes in handy for frequent flyers who often hoard an incredible amount of foreign coins. TravelersBox is an ATM-like machine that allows you to transfer your small foreign change and bills to a PayPal account, or to convert it into a retailer’s gift card, including those of Gap and Domino’s Pizza. TravelersBox can even donate your change to charity.


Read the full article here

TravelersBox announced as one of four Niche Companies with big ideas on innovation

When it comes to new ventures, the advice to avoid “diving into a crowded pool” is sound. The problem? It’s not always enough to just recognize a need and create a new product or service that fills a vacuum. Even if you’re operating within a niche, you still need to be innovative.

But bringing innovation to large, crowded markets can be incredibly difficult. True, creating the next iPhone or Facebook has the potential for a huge payoff, but that doesn’t mean that going mainstream is a surefire path to success. Often, it’s more worthwhile to focus on a specific, if smaller, market

Click here for the full article

TravelersBox Raises $4.5 Million To Turn Your Change Into Money

While TravelersBox may sound like a fight club for paunchy, tired business executives who spend months on a plane per year, it’s actually a box that lets you turn your foreign currency – change mostly – into dollars and Euro and then sends the value right to your Paypal, Skype, or Starbucks account.

Founded by Tomer Zussman, Idan Deshe, and Dror Blumenthal, the company has raised $4.5 million from Global Blue, Yuval Tal, Zohar Gilon, Hagai Tal, and Ehud Levy, alongside Pitango Venture Capital and iAngels in order to expand into more airports where more TravelersBoxes will wait to munch your money.


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TravelersBox converts Foreign Coins into Digital Currency

Three Israeli thirty-somethings – Tomer Zussman, Idan Deshe and Dror Blumenthal – founded TravelersBox at the end of 2012, a brilliant solution for converting those foreign coins that get left around the house after an overseas trip back into hard cash. They have developed an ATM-lookalike machine into which the foreign coins can be inserted and converted into digital currency. In this way, the small change left over from a trip can go into your PayPal account, be used as credits for an iTunes account, or used for purchases on eBay or international chains like GAP, Old Navy, and others. The machine has an interface in several languages, including Hebrew, and adapts the money conversion offer to the country. While Americans can convert the small change into credits for the Starbucks chain, Israelis can do the same thing for purchases at the Aroma chain.

Click here for the rest of the article on Globes