On average, 8 million people fly around the world every day, and during the holiday peak season which starts on Thanksgiving, the daily number is even higher. When traveling internationally, business travelers and tourists alike are often left with coins of euros, dollars and other currencies they don’t need anymore. But the small change they’re left with after every trip adds up – so, why not put it to work?
Israeli startup TravelersBox has come up with a practical new solution for spare change, which comes in handy for frequent flyers who often hoard an incredible amount of foreign coins. TravelersBox is an ATM-like machine that allows you to transfer your small foreign change and bills to a PayPal account, or to convert it into a retailer’s gift card, including those of Gap and Domino’s Pizza. TravelersBox can even donate your change to charity.
TravelersBox designated kiosks are located throughout airports around the world. After passengers deposit their coins and bills, a series of prompts are displayed on the screen. The customer is asked to choose their preferred language, select where they want their money to go, and type either their mobile number or email. Further details on the transaction are then sent via email or SMS.
A solution for frequent flyers
Founded in 2013 by Tomer Zussman, Idan Deshe and Dror Blumenthal, the 15-employee startup has so far raised $4.5 million. The company is based on the idea that travelers should be able to unload their foreign coins before they return home.
“Tomer had been flying back and forth from Tel Aviv to New York; he was loaded with small money and coins, and we thought about coming up with a machine that would enable users to deposit the rest of their change,” Blumenthal tells NoCamels.
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When Blumenthal bought a Beatles record on iTunes for $2.99, “it got me thinking what people can buy with only a few dollars,” he recalls. Currently, there are 70 partnering companies that customers can choose from. The most popular choices are: PayPal, iTunes, Skype, Google Play, and Starbucks.
There is no minimum amount needed in order to deposit money; depending on the deposited amount, a fee of 3-10 percent applies. However, there is no fee for those who wish to make a donation.
Expanding around the globe with 200 new locations
After fine-tuning their business model in 2013, the three partners spent $50,000 to develop a prototype. In addition, they received funding from private investors, and a few months later they landed their first contract with Turkey’s Istanbul Atatürk Airport.
The company has grown exponentially since then: TravelersBox can now be found in Manila (Philippines), Milan, Manchester and Tel Aviv. Additional Kiosks will soon be available in Toronto and Tokyo. In 2016, the company plans to have kiosks in New York as well as in 200 additional locations in Asia and the US. Currently, some 3,000 people use TravelersBox around the world every day.
So, next time you’re on your way home, unload that annoying small change at the airport, and put it to work for your charity of choice!