One of our favorite startups here at Tech in Asia is TravelersBox, which is an ATM-esque contraption at airports that helps you swap all that pesky leftover foreign currency into something useful, like Paypal or iTunes credit, or vouchers for GAP or Starbucks.
The TravelersBox machine is now going after China’s hordes of globe-trotting tourists, who numbered 120 million last year. The figure will be even bigger this year.
In order to get this new audience, TravelersBox co-founder Tomer Zussman and his team have added in support for the mobile wallet created by Baidu, China’s top search engine. So people just feed their unwanted notes and coins into the machine and then they’re converted into Chinese yuan and zapped into their Baidu Wallet accounts.
In addition, the Israel-based #startup is set to launch more than 40 new kiosks in six Asian airports by the end of the year, with an emphasis on hotspots for China’s travelers.
“With an email address and a Baidu Wallet account, users currently can access the service at five international airports” through a TravelersBox kiosk, explains a Baidu spokesperson to Tech in Asia. “By the end of this year, the service will expand to six additional airports in regions including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand.”
While the Baidu tie-up is a boost to the startup, the choice of partner is not as useful to Chinese tourists as rival ones, like Jack Ma’s Alipay or WeChat Wallet. Relatively few people use Baidu Wallet in China, despite the best efforts of the tech giant.
It marks the start of a major Asian expansion for Tomer’s startup, which he established in 2012.
“For the Asian market we’ve given specific attention for each of the local travelers’ nationalities. Solutions such as Nets Flash Card for Singaporeans, Lazada for the Southeast Asian travelers and more, will soon be available in TravelersBox around the world,” says the co-founder.
The team got US$10 million in series A funding at the start of the year to support this global expansion.