Israeli Startup FlyMoney, develops an innovative platform for foreign currency trading between different suppliers prior to international travel, and won an award at the Visa’s Everywhere initiative, which was held recently. The company was awarded a €25,000 prize.
The Israeli startup company FlyMoney is one of the winners of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative in the “International Travel Challenge” category. The finals of the competition took place during the Money 20/20 conference which was held in late June in Copenhagen.
The company’s solution includes an API that performs cost comparison and provides currency conversion solutions while the customer reserves a flight through a travel agent or an airline.
The company was set up to address a real need: Tal Ekroni was a Business Administration lecturer at the College of Management in Rishon LeZion when students approached him with a question: We are about to fly to India, where is it best to buy Indian Rupees? Ekroni found out soon enough that this was no mean feat: “the entire currency conversion experience for tourists is pretty nasty. It is completely offline and there is no transparency at all so this means no competition, which results in exchange rates which are sometimes unfair”.
“I asked a travel agent friend how he helps tourists convert currency cheaply and he said he does not deal with this issue. When it comes to booking flights, renting cars, booing accommodation – there are computerized systems. But for foreign currency there is no service that coordinates the supply and amidst the reams of digitization surrounding us, this area is still analog. We decided to create such an aggregation system and that’s how FlyMoney was born. ”
“We integrated with the currency trading service suppliers’ databases around the world, similar to what the airport currency conversion booths have. Some of them are able to send the currency to the buyer’s home, others provide home-delivered pre-loaded credit cards able to disburse cash at airports, others hand out the money in foreign currency at the airport in the home country or at the destination country. The customers don’t even know they’re using our service because it’s integrated within the website from which they purchase the travel services. As far as we are concerned, when customers complete the air ticket reservation, they are presented with an offer to purchase the local currency at his destination. ”
“So far, we have connected foreign currency suppliers in 56 airports worldwide to our interface and we have converted the equivalent of $4 million. In Israel, we have connected most of the tourism sites to our system, such as Daka 90, Ophir Tours, Lametayel, etc. The Israelis receive the currency they have purchased at the Poalim branch at the Tel Aviv Airport. ”
“Our connection with Visa is intended to enable us to offer customers foreign currency in exchange for loyalty points from airlines, hotels, and other tourism organizations. There are huge sums of money lying idle in these loyalty programs, burdening these companies’ balance sheets, with them having to allocate funds to enable their customers to exercise these benefits”.
Oded Salomy, General Manager of Visa in Israel, said: “FlyMoney was among 8 Israeli companies that reached the finals and competed for the prizes against another 7 young companies from Europe. The competition was tough but the contestants stood out with our innovative ideas, our advanced technologies, and our advanced solutions, which will be altering the road ahead for the way people use money”.
Bill Gajda, Visa’s Executive VP for Innovation and Strategic partners in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said: “We looked for, and are continuing to look for a broad range of fintech solutions. In places like Tel Aviv, Berlin and London there are lots of companies working in these fields”.
“Israel is strong in many technologies, nor just in what traditionally is related to security. Israel is emerging as a world leader in biometrics and now a vibrant bitcoin community is also forming there. And even generally speaking there are lots of good Israeli Fintech companies we would like to work with and accelerate their development”.
To contact Visa’s Innovation division in Israel, please click here.