We are coChange, and we’ve created an app which enables travelers from all around the world to make the good choices for their payments and purchases of foreign currencies. Ask us anything!

Ashton Klein
May 11, 2018

coChange is a French startup created 4 years ago by Raphaël and Jérôme. It all started with a trip to New York, where Raphaël and his daughter had to find a currency exchange office and they couldn’t... Raphaël then had the idea to create an app which modernizes the currency exchange by making it more fluid and transparent. 

The app enables travelers from all around the world to make the good choices for their payments and purchases of foreign currencies, in order to make them save time and money. 

The app locates the currency exchange offices (about 10 000 in a hundred of countries) and shows the rates of a growing number of them in real time.

Today, coChange counts more than 30 000 users in 170 countries:

coChange is going to improve its services by making sure that the use of foreign currencies is easy and transparent, and by answering every question that travelers can ask themselves: is it better to use a credit card or to go to a currency exchange office, how much is it gonna cost, is there any hidden fees, is it better to change before leaving or in the visited country? etc.

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What demographic locations are you currently targeting for this year?
May 18, 10:00AM EDT0
How do you stay updated on various technical apps or products which are applicable to your line of business?
May 18, 8:18AM EDT0
What other travel apps are currently offering the same type of features? Are there only one yet?
May 18, 12:47AM EDT0
How's the work atmosphere at Co-Change? What does a usual work day at the startup look like?
May 18, 12:24AM EDT0
Did you develop the app yourself or hired developers? Did it take long? Is the final result exactly what you envisaged or changed over time?
May 12, 6:58AM EDT0

We developed the app entirely by ourselves as we are developers. It took 3 or 4 months and then it has evolved progressively.

Today, we should update and improve it (design and UX) but we rather supply it with more information (foreign offices and exchange rates).

As we do everything by ourselves, we can’t work on everything in the same time, but the idea remains in our heads!

May 15, 10:20AM EDT0
Do the exchange offices pay to be listed on the site? Do you check if they are reputable and how if so?
May 11, 8:59PM EDT0

No, the exchange offices don’t pay to be listed. We check their reputation with the reviews on their site.

Unfortunately, we can’t go check by ourselves even though, at the beginning, the app was an excuse to travel and to go meet every exchange offices owners in the world. :)

May 15, 10:19AM EDT0
What a brilliant idea! Do you have any competition?
May 11, 6:54PM EDT0

Thank you!! Yes, we do have competition: there are several services in Asia and in South America which have the same offer but it’s more localized.

We realized that we had users from everywhere so we didn’t have the choice to expand our services. Indeed, we had our app downloaded in 40 countries on the first launching week. We are now in 180 countries and some people are still unhappy that we don’t cover the zone they’re staying or living in.

So, we are looking forward to be everywhere soon, which is what differentiates us from the competition!

May 15, 11:27AM EDT0
How can entrepreneurs take advantage of foreign exchanges to take their business to the next level?
May 11, 4:52PM EDT0
How do you keep your users engaged and coming back to the app?
May 11, 2:47PM EDT0

It’s hard to keep them coming to the app especially when they are not travelling or they don’t plan to.

The idea is to know our users better and to rely on their travel and managing money habits.

For now, there is no accounts on the app but we eventually would like to follow the traveller all along its customer itinerary: before leaving, while traveling and back from its trip (because 87% of travelers come back with foreign currency)!

May 15, 10:19AM EDT0
How do you monetise the app?
May 11, 1:08PM EDT0

We don’t for now, the app is free, without ads and the exchange offices don’t pay to be listed. Our goal is to increase the number of our users and then set up special offers with the foreign exchange offices, which will finance the app.

May 15, 10:19AM EDT0
What are the headlines that you're following today in the world of international money transfers? How do they affect your readers?
May 11, 11:04AM EDT0
What are a few steps you'd recommend for entrepreneurs who are just getting started with foreign exchange?
May 11, 6:06AM EDT0

It depends on what you want to do exactly… If you want to do international business, there are several solutions that hedge currency risk or optimize the timing of transfers, according to the rate.

May 15, 10:18AM EDT0
Who should people be using CoChange today?
May 11, 5:12AM EDT0

According to a Visa survey, 77% of travelers are still using foreign currency when they’re abroad, despite the existence of digital means of payment and bank cards.

If you change money in a currency exchange office, the fees can doubled and if you use a bank card in a foreign country, you will discover its real cost when you’ll be back from your trip…

This lack of transparency can cost between 5 and 10% of your local budget, that is to say approximatively a hundred euros, which represents a hotel night or a good restaurants for instance.

Using coChange can help all the travelers from all around the world to make the good choices for their payments and purchases of foreign currency and so make them save time and money!

May 15, 10:18AM EDT0
Where are the most common places to trade currencies? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
May 11, 1:52AM EDT0

Airports and every touristic areas are the more common places to find currency exchange offices. But they aren’t necessarily the best places to change currency! It depends on the currency you need to change and on the existence of competition between offices.

It isn’t recommended to change in airports because the travelers are captive and there isn’t competition. This way, the currency exchange office impose its prices which can be way higher than in an office in town.

The same way, changing money in a touristic area isn’t necessarily attractive because of the available stock and the currency’s rarity, maybe the currency exchange office will not be able to resell it easily so the price might be high.

When you are a local, looking for a rare currency which clutters the currency office, you may be able to obtain a good price, which is an advantage. 

May 15, 10:17AM EDT0
Have there been any particularly well-performing or reliable foreign exchange investments that you've noticed - like pounds to dollars, for instance?
May 11, 12:16AM EDT0

The app isn’t about foreign exchange investments so we don’t really pay attention to performances.

May 15, 10:16AM EDT0
What are some of the risks of getting into foreign exchange unprepared or having unrealistic expectations?
May 10, 11:53PM EDT0

In our case, the goal is to be prepared in advance. Anyone can anticipate its trip, using our app and comparing the currency exchange offices while knowing that you will never obtain the official rate given by currency translation’s apps.

May 15, 10:16AM EDT0
How do the exchange offices update the rates to show on the app? Do they have an interface for themselves? How do you motivate them to use it regularly?
May 10, 10:21PM EDT0

The exchange offices are connected via their websites or APIs. As they change their rates several times a day, we prefer it to be automated so it can reflect the changes in real time.

May 15, 9:27AM EDT0
What are some change basics anyone who needs to make an international money transfer or payment should know?
May 10, 10:16PM EDT0

We are a travel money comparator which allows its users to make the best choices for their payments and purchases of foreign currency.

But it’s the same thing with money transfer: there are several actors and they each have their prices, you need to compare them! Prices depend mainly on volume, they can be negotiated depending on the amount of currency you want to transfer. You can use a comparator like moneytis.com to compare the rates.

May 15, 8:55AM EDT0
Why do exchange rates vary by providers?
May 10, 11:41AM EDT0

First, foreign banknotes represent money, but actually, it's a product like any other. A grocery store choose the price it will sell a bottle of milk and this is the same for a foreign exchange office. There is also a difference between the spot / interbank (xe.com / oanda.com etc.) rate and the rate that you will get in a foreign exchange office. You don't expect to pay your milk in a supermarket the same price a central purchasing will sell it to the supermarket chain. It is the same with money, because it is a physical good that needs to be transported close to you, stores, sold by employees, on a rented store, etc.

Also, the location of the currency exchange office is one thing that explains the rates’ differences. For example, if the next exchange office is 20 km away from the airport, it is very possible that the currency exchange office makes profit from the impossibility for people to change their money elsewhere.

Plus, each exchange office freely decides the amount of fees it will apply to each sale or purchase of currencies, these fees are not visible but integrated to the applied rates.

It also depends on the supply and demand for the currency you have and need and on the services you are looking for in the foreign exchange offices (exchange via credit card, choice of denominations, currencies take-back guarantee). 

We have a full blog post on this topic right here!

May 11, 11:54AM EDT0
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