Innovation That Matters

The sharing economy for currency exchange

Travel & Tourism

New innovation lets travelers exchange their unwanted foreign currency with ‘collectors’ through a web app.

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Most people have experienced arriving at the airport on their way home from holiday, their pockets full of small change, having to buy something they don’t really need in an effort to avoid transporting so much small change home with them. Back in 2013, we wrote about this idea allows users to deposit their unwanted foreign change into kiosks, exchanging it for a preferred currency. WorldKoins offers a similar service, differing in that it is web-based and therefore much more scalable.

Founded by Ali Zekeria, WorldKoins is a marketplace for leftover currency. Users can identify and locate ‘collectors’ through the WorldKoins app, transferring their spare change to them using the accompanying app. So named collectors can be anyone from an Uber driver to a coffee shop barista. They validate the transaction and credit the traveler with currency that is redeemable for an iTunes gift card, PayPal top-up, Google Play credit, or a charitable donation. A small commission is charged, split between the startup and the collector. All currencies are accepted and exchange rates follow those offered by banks, updated in real-time. Of the idea, Zekeria says, “There are more than one billion international travelers per year and every single one of them is facing this problem: what to do with the leftover travel money once back home. The challenge is to come with a simple yet effective solution that is scalable enough for worldwide reach and shall be simple with a user-friendly interface.”

Where else will we see the sharing economy take hold?


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