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New e-wallet with pre-paid card lets users pay in 150 currencies with no conversion fees

SINGAPORE — Whether it is withdrawing cash in another country, or shopping online or overseas, there is now a way for Singapore travellers to do so without any cross-border transaction fees or paying currency conversion fees typically charged by banks or moneychangers.

YouTrip, a multi-currency mobile wallet, is a collaboration among Singapore’s transport payment solutions provider EZ-Link, credit card giant Mastercard and Hong Kong-based financial technology (fintech) start-up You Technologies.

YouTrip, a multi-currency mobile wallet, is a collaboration among Singapore’s transport payment solutions provider EZ-Link, credit card giant Mastercard and Hong Kong-based financial technology (fintech) start-up You Technologies.

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SINGAPORE — Whether it is withdrawing cash in another country, or shopping online or overseas, there is now a way for Singapore travellers to do so without any cross-border transaction fees or paying currency conversion fees typically charged by banks or moneychangers.

YouTrip, a multi-currency mobile wallet, was launched on Tuesday (Aug 7) and allows users to pay in more than 150 currencies, converted at wholesale exchange rates, without incurring any extra cost.

The e-wallet is a collaboration among Singapore's transport payment solutions provider EZ-Link, credit card giant Mastercard and Hong Kong-based financial technology (fintech) start-up You Technologies.

It also marks EZ-Link's first foray into fintech.

The YouTrip mobile application works in tandem with a Mastercard pre-paid card — issued by EZ-Link — and it can be used to make payments at more than 30 million Mastercard merchants worldwide.

The e-wallet automatically converts the currency using wholesale exchange rates that are updated more than 40,000 times a month, You Technologies' chief executive officer Arthur Mak said.

Through the YouTrip app, users may also monitor live foreign exchange rates, select an amount they want to exchange for another currency, and then store the converted value in their mobile wallets, a joint press release by all three companies stated.

Once stored, the converted value will remain the same regardless of exchange rate changes, and it will not expire even after the card reaches its expiry date, Mr Mak said.

So far, only 10 selected currencies can be stored this way that allows users to circumvent fluctuating exchange rates: The Singapore dollar, the Hong Kong dollar, the United States dollar, the Japanese yen, the British pound, the Euro, the Australian dollar, the New Zealand dollar, the Swiss franc and the Swedish krona.

Mr Mak said that his company is looking to expand this list of "stored" currencies.

Speaking at the launch event on Tuesday, Monetary Authority of Singapore's chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty noted that the launch of YouTrip would be able to help grow the mobile payments market in Singapore.

"If we can get the product for the entire Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations) basket currency and create that feature, it would really help this ecosystem a lot," he added.

Banking on its experience in managing the ez-link cards that are used on Singapore's public transport system, EZ-Link's team is in charge of performing Know-Your-Customer procedures when users sign up for YouTrip.

Know-Your-Customer processes involve businesses verifying the identity of their clients and their potential risks in conducting any illegal activity, and are usually part of anti-money laundering regulations.

Mr Nicholas Lee, the chief executive officer of EZ-Link, said: "Like any financial product, the e-wallet, because it is done by us, it is regulatory obligation to make sure anybody that uses this product is properly identified."

During a product demonstration at the launch, Mr Mak showed that users have the option of preventing the card from being used by others if they were to lose it — by "locking" it through the app.

The app will also send a notification to users' mobile phones with each transaction made.

While users still need to use the pre-paid card when making payments, Mr Mak said that Mastercard's near-field-communications technology can allow the company to develop more functions for YouTrip, such as letting users make payments with just a tap of the phone in the future.

When asked how YouTrip would stand out from several other digital payment providers already available in the market, he said that it aims to solve payment challenges unique to travellers.

Mr Mak said: "When you're abroad, you are automatically 'unbanked'. We are solving that problem so that you can carry less cash when you go overseas."

Users may sign up for a YouTrip account by downloading its app from the Apple store or Google Play store. No minimum account balance is required and signing up is free.

Users may use any debit or credit card to top up the e-wallet, which has a maximum store value of S$3,000.

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