For everyone who winds up with random coins or notes left astray in their wallets following a holiday, it’s a useful solution without much effort needed. Paterson thought of the idea when he discovered over $500-worth of coins and notes in assorted drawers of his, that had been lying around for years. Anecdotal evidence suggested many of his friends had similar situations and indicated there could be quite the untapped market for these leftover coins and forgotten odd notes.“Our research indicated that over a billion people travel internationally every year and it turned out there was an estimated £3bn of foreign currency that was lying dormant in UK homes alone! We knew this was an opportunity that the big currency exchange companies were missing,” Paterson explained. Others hadn’t tried it before because of the complexity and variety of coins in circulation – as Paterson pointed out “it takes too long to identify and value each coin, and this removes any potential profit”. Paterson and Du Toit assessed how to develop high-speed recognition technology that circumvented that problem, so Fourex can now process huge volumes at low costs. The exchange rates are updated daily in line with market trends and are clearly displayed on the kiosks – “enabling complete transparency” according to Paterson. The two co-founders both bring different elements to the business – Du Toit’s specialty is “the tech side of things” according to Paterson, while he takes on the “frontman of the business” role.
Despite being at its early stages of business life, Fourex has already taken some significant steps, with impressive prospects on the horizon. It has secured contracts with Transport for London and Westfield London, which will see the kiosks unveiled at tube stations and shopping centres in August. It seems difficult to think of two better options to cultivate rapid and extensive exposure to the machines – Westfield sees over 27m visitors each year. There wasn’t quite such monumental movement when it first came to realising their ambitions, however. While Paterson said many potential investors were intrigued by the idea, they weren’t totally convinced. “Our concept is completely different to anything out there and traditional VCs and business angels all wanted us to prove our concept before jumping on board,” Paterson explained. “Everybody loved the idea, but couldn’t compare us to anything, so told us to come back once we had sufficient data to remove the risk.” So, like many others, they decided to take a punt at crowdfunding as a means to financing their aims. The opportunity to place the idea in front of the exact people they needed to see it was too tempting to resist. Even so, the response by March 2015 totally surpassed any initial expectations or hopes. Read more on currency exchange:
- Top tips for SMEs dealing with a strengthening dollar
- How to avoid foreign exchange risks when exporting
- How to protect your business from currency risk
- Educating the market on the availability of FX savings
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