Singapore’s 4xLabs and Malaysia’s Moneybay have entered into a strategic partnership with the hope of leveraging one another’s strengths in their respective markets.
The two currency exchange startups will share some of their data, technology, and user networks to boost each other’s presence in Malaysia, Singapore, and other countries they are targeting for expansion.
Both startups have developed software platforms for currency exchange that are designed to streamline the distribution of foreign currency for travelers and service providers.
Moneybay provides a cross-border money exchange solution for consumers. Using its mobile app, customers can exchange currency digitally with licensed money changers. The service also enables travelers to withdraw currency in foreign countries. By making a payment before they leave via Moneybay’s platform, they are issued with a ticket that they can take abroad to withdraw money.
B2C to B2B
Since launching back in 2011, Singapore-based 4xLabs – which closed a US$1.5 million pre-series A round last month – has transitioned towards a B2B-centric model after an earlier focus on B2C services.
Its Get4x app is a location-based exchange rate aggregator that allows travellers to compare rates offered by licensed money changers in their vicinity. This way, they can avoid the typically less competitive official exchange rates provided by banks.
More recently, the company launched Biz4x, a software platform for money changers that includes live foreign exchange rates, a compliance database, and a point-of-sale system for managing transactions, customer records, and inventory.
While both 4xLabs services already have users across multiple territories, the company sees its new partnership with Moneybay as the best way to accelerate its expansion into markets outside of its native Singapore.
This market has been extremely underinvested; go to any money changer, and look at the tech in their offices – it feels outdated.
While Moneybay and 4xLabs do have some overlap when it comes to their B2C solutions, they diverge in terms of features and geography, says the latter’s CEO Chris Vanden Berghe. “One area where we definitely differ is 4xLabs’ B2B solution,” he tells Tech in Asia. For Moneybay, the advantage of the partnership is that it gets access to more data and money changers in Singapore; for 4xLabs, the same is true with regards to Malaysia, he adds.
Having just closed its pre-series A round, 4xLabs is now looking to put those funds to work on building new services around its B2B offering, among other things. Upgrading its platform to handle compliance and regulatory reporting will be one area of focus, and the company is set to announce a new global service within the next few months, Vanden Berghe tells Tech in Asia. “It’s all about continuous investment in the product,” he says. “This market has been extremely underinvested; go to any money changer, and look at the tech in their offices – it feels outdated. So it is going to take a lot of investment to bring this industry up to speed. What we have done so far is just the tip of iceberg.”
As for Moneybay, it is looking to close a seed funding round within the next few weeks. Founder Christian Yeo reports that the startup already has several investors signed up. “Some of those funds will be used to aggressively increase our user acquisition,” Yeo tells Tech in Asia. “We are looking into how we can incentivize users to do more money exchange through our platform,” says Yeo. “It costs a lot of money to change behavior – many travelers are still traditional, in the sense that they still queue up at banks and bureaux to change currency.” The rest will go towards other enhancements of the company’s B2C product – dovetailing neatly, perhaps, with 4xLabs’ plans for its B2B platform.
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