How to globe-trot and not lose on international banking transaction fees and exchange rates? TRAVEL UNION, a Lithuania-based company, has the answer. The Baltic Times Magazine met with RamanoKorneu, CEO of the company, to learn more.
What was the start of TRAVEL UNION?
Our project appeared in 2018 in response to the problems that currently exist in the travel industry when travellers use the services of classical banks and different loyalty programmes. Every year more and more people travel abroad (by 2020, there will be about 1.6 billion tourists in the world annually visiting foreign countries) and usually lose quite a lot of money on international transaction fees and exchange rates, not to mention awkward services. Moreover, many travellers rarely choosethe same travel agencies, stay in the same hotels, tend to use various flight options, resulting in millions of loyalty programme cards for hotels and airlines in their pocket or device. Quite often points earned by them just burn out before they can beused. Therefore, the decision, in which you have one card that allows you to pay everywhere without commissions, send money in different currencies and at the same time earn non-burning and widely-convertible travel loyalty points seemed very timely.
The real action started when the professionals in finance, tourism and IT gathered together. The combination of knowledge and experience gave birth to a great business model and product concept.
What do you believe makes your product particularly attractive?
Travel Union was planned not just as a mobile banking app for customers, but as a single ecosystem for travellers and travel partners. This model gives us the opportunity to offer our clients the lowest cost possible, the best travel offers in the market and at the same time to participate in our unified loyalty program #Time. Our loyalty program #Time is unique because the points are non-burning and can be converted into cash, great offers of our partners, and points of other loyalty programs - so it is a great incentive to use particularly our mobile banking app.
The main advantage of all our products, mobile banking, online banking for business - they are extremely convenient to use, money-saving and secure.
One of the key elements of our ecosystem is our own payment system, which will allow us to overcome the limitations of off-the shelf payment gateways(high sign-up costs and fees for every transaction, inability to customize and add new features, etc.)and which we will be able to offer as a product to our travel partners and other merchants.
Who is your average client?
Our mobile banking app is created for families with children, travellers, and busy people. They are tech-savvy and cost-conscious – that is why they would rather choose a digital bank with a convenient and intuitive app offering basic services for free than a traditional bank.
Our remotely on-boarded kid's accounts and free payment cards with parental control will allow parents to teach their kids about money in an increasingly cashless society and will help in a family routine.In other words, we build the product according to our pain points and willingness to help other families, who usually experience the same problems raising kids.
From the corporate side our clients are companies of the travel industry: hotels, airlines, travel agencies, online marketplaces, excursion companies, duty free shops etc. In order to create a strong merchant network and ensure high processing volume we are going to offerthem all the benefits of a travel-specialised payment system.
Has the year 2019 been successful to TRAVEL UNION in terms of growth and what are you aiming at in 2020?
2019 was essential for the growth of our business – we took a big step from the development of an innovative and unique concept and building a scalable technology-based business model towards a well-equipped and adequately-prepared business ventureready for launch.
Asfortechnologicalpartnership, in 2019 wesigned contracts with proven technology service providers offering high-tech solutions for fintech companies and created a well-tuned operating model.
In the beginning of 2020, the focus will be placed on pilot testing of the mobile application and on-line bank for legal entities to see how people use the product and make necessary adjustments.
The beginning of 2020 will also be marked by obtaining the Electronic Money Institution license in Lithuania and acquiring early customers–travel partners and travellers using a broad partners’ network. We aim toget as many as 50 thousand retail customers on board and over 100 of travel-related legal entities over the year. Weall see huge opportunities that we do not want to miss!