We all do it. We open our wallet after we’ve been traveling and find spare change we’ll probably never use again.
Some of us throw it away and some of us collect it, hoping one day, it will come in handy. But it never does.
But what if there was a quick way of swapping all your Egyptian pounds and UAE dirhams for currency in your own country? Thanks to London start-up Fourex, there is.
Fourex is a world money exchange self-service kiosk. It’s effectively a ‘Coinstar’ which exchanges foreign notes and coins for pounds.
Speaking to BQ, chief operating officer Simon Reader, said: “We’re the first people in the world to have designed an exchange terminal whereby customers can transact over 150 currencies in notes and coins and be paid out in either pounds euros or US dollars.
“We have developed a specific recognition technology which allows us to identify the origin of every note and coin in a tenth of a second, therefore we don’t require office space or human capital to run our operations.”
The business was launched by South African entrepreneurs Jeff Paterson and Oliver Du Toit back in 2008. Because they were aviation executives at the time they were traveling all over the world and ended up with vast amounts of foreign currency and coins.
No banks were willing to change their coins over and very few travel exchange firms would touch them, they only wanted dollars, euros, swiss francs and the main currencies.
Jeff and Oliver discovered there was an incredible market for people who had out of date currencies or foreign coins and decided to turn it into a business.
“We started off with our first kiosk at Kings Cross in December 2015 and now have seven, all of which are in London,” Simon added, “we are now looking to expand into Europe and the Middle East.
“We have grown at a rate that even amazes us. We now employ 28 people and are growing week by week. We’ll have 15 kiosks by the end of this month and 35 by the end of February.”
Like any start-up, the business didn’t come without challenges. Simon said: “Because we have developed such an extremely advanced technology, people are often a bit overwhelmed by it.
“Even though they have foreign currency they want to exchange, our biggest challenge has been convincing people that they can actually get money from their coins. This has funnily enough been the biggest challenge.
“Another obstacle has been growing responsibly, finding the right local and international partners to grow with. Finding the right local venues where footfall is high enough to attract a steady stream of customers.
“We spent a lot of time trying to identify who our market is and we ended up realising that it was actually a wasteful exercise as our market is practically everyone.
“It’s the average guy who wants to exchange a few coins to get a note or the businessman traveling from the Eurostar to London for a day who wants a traditional Bureau de Change service.”
Having been named Richard Branson’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2015 and after being named ‘National business of the year 2016’ by Lloyds Bank, the future certainly looks bright for Fourex.