A Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) incubatee launched its first physical point of foreign currency (FX) cash processing for its foreign currency swapping platform in Hong Kong.
The AI-driven, blockchain-powered platform, “ReadyTravel”, does away with high spreads, administrative fees and limited trading hours found at brick-and-mortar currency traders. It is supported by a bank consortium’s APIX to obtain real-time FX rates from 11 banks in Hong Kong.
Building on a wildly successful beta phase, the incubatee unveiled its first physical kiosk for P2P FX deposit and withdrawal at Hong Kong Science Park Building 5W in July 2019. The kiosk, debuting under HKSTP’s First@Science Park Programme, is the incubatees’ first step in the expansion of its global network of FX swap kiosks. The kiosk will make good use of the HKSTP location as a live testing ground to collect feedback and data.
The platform reduces traditional costs associated with FX by efficiently matching supply and demand-side, effectively facilitating travellers’ to redeem unused FX with others in need. It swiftly facilitates multi-faceted swaps from cash-to-cash, cash-to-digital and digital-to-cash. Physical redemption can be done at the incubatee’s self-developed ReadyKiosks.
The Co-founder of the incubatee noted that the company is ecstatic about the soft launch of its very first physical FX processing kiosk (ReadyKiosk) which represents a key component in the ReadyTravel FX swapping platform. In time, these kiosks will be found in major ports of entry and exit worldwide to make App-arranged currency swaps easier than picking up a cup of coffee.
Nearly 90 per cent of all travellers have to contend with an average of more than US$100 in leftover foreign currency after trips, according to a February 2018 VISA survey, and less than 30 per cent of travellers manage to convert their leftover foreign currency upon return. ReadyTravel’s primary audience is the burgeoning tech-savvy millennial traveller segment which is expected to spend a combined US$250 billion in 2020.
The Chief Executive Officer of the bank consortium stated that having ReadyTravel as one of its API Trusted Service Partners (TSP) and cooperating partners is exciting. The consortium has more than ten member banks in Hong Kong using its APIX connected through their multiple banks’ API systems, bringing new and convenient foreign currency experience to customers.
With reference to the banks’ foreign currency rates, ReadyTravel can have more data for algorithmic trading which increases the speed at which it can quote market prices, while simultaneously reducing the transaction costs. Besides, it can reduce their risk exposure.
The platform allows travellers to swap up to 80 foreign currencies with other users through one-off and multi-party transactions backed by blockchain verification and accountability. Rates are calculated in real time through the AI-powered ReadySwap Intelligence which calculates the platform’s multi-currency allocations, banknote verification and ledger processing.
The expansion of ReadyTravel’s P2P reach is followed by a Fast Payment System (FPS) integration to connect with banks and Stored Value Facilities (SVF) in Hong Kong, as well as a Business-to-Business (B2B) phase through ReadyLite annual enterprise subscriptions. ReadyLite is a tabletop cash processor that enables multi-currency acceptance at merchants.
The Head of Incubation & Acceleration Programmes of HKSTP said stated that FinTech is one of the technology focus areas of HKSTP, and for Hong Kong, as an international financial centre. The incubatees’ first deployment through our First@Science Park Programme is a major milestone for the start-up who has benefited from HKSTP’s incubation and acceleration programmes.
HKSTP’s showcase of park companies’ technologies and solutions like the ReadyTravel is yet another example of its on-site integration and testing advantages which provides live data and feedback. It is one of the Park’s most popular initiatives and the ReadyTravel is among a multitude of disruptive technologies which got their start at First@Science Park.
The incubatee is helmed by founders who blend their expertise in machine learning, finance, manufacturing and marketing to help do away with piles of leftover foreign exchange.
The company’s platform was developed under HKSTP’s Incu-Tech three-year programme which offers grants, funding and support services for early-stage start-ups.
Incu-Tech’s array of business and professional support is a major boon to tech companies moving beyond the inception stage. The incubatee was able to leverage the incubation programme for conferences and mentorships.