In this episode, I talk with 2 of the 3 co-founders of Cash Swap, CEO Ben Diallo and COO Nigel Riggins. The third co-founder is Kameelah Shaheed-Diallo, who provides legal and general council. Cash Swap was inspired by a personal experience Ben Diallo had in Tokyo. He was exchanging US dollars for yen, and was handed currency that had been directly exchanged by the person in front of him in line. That is where the idea for Cash Swap came from.
It is a peer to peer currency exchange that links fellow travelers at the airport so that they can swap currency with each other. Cash Swap is a networking app, which connects you with other travelers, and as such, the company does not have the same hurdles that currency exchange companies do. Ben and Nigel share product roadmap, details on service fees, and metrics with which to measure future successes.
Topics in the episode
Educating travelers on market exchange rates
User experience within the app
Using JFK airport as a pilot launch
Current airport-based marketing strategy
Street team utilization
Future international expansion
Changes in the global travel market
Mike Kelly: Welcome to the Startup Competitors podcast. Today we're sitting down with two of the co founders from CashSwap, Ben Diallo and Nigel Riggins. Welcome to the show gentlemen.
Nigel Riggins: Thank you.
Ben Diallo: Well thank you for having us.
Mike Kelly: And who's the co founder we're missing missing?
Ben Diallo: Missing Kameelah Shaheed-Diallo. She's not here today, but she's the third co founder.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. And then, Ben, you're CEO. Nigel, you're COO, correct?
Nigel Riggins: That's correct.
Ben Diallo: Yes.
Mike Kelly: And then what's Kameelah's role?
Ben Diallo: She's in charge of everything legal and also compliance.
Mike Kelly: Compliance, all the fun things you guys don't want to do.
Nigel Riggins: She's our internal counsel. And like most startups, we all have a shared responsibility. So yeah.
Mike Kelly: Right on. Let's maybe start with an overview of CashSwap. What do you guys do?
Ben Diallo: Well, you know, anytime you go overseas you have to exchange your currency and you go to the airport, they rip you off with all the fees. So I travel a lot and then during all my travel it's always frustrating for me to get currency. And one day I was in Tokyo standing in line behind this lady and she was trying to get some US dollar and then I was trying to get some yen. So she went to the counter, she gave her a yen to the agent. And then when I came in, the agent literally give me the same currency he just received from her. That's when it clicked on me. I could have just you know,, met with lady and then exchanged, save time, and also save money. So CashSwap is a peer to peer currency exchange that links fellow travelers at the airport so that they can swap the currency with each other.
Mike Kelly: Tactically, a couple of clarifying questions. So tactically, any fees on that if I'm using CashSwap? What does that look like? Is it the same kind of transaction as if I was at a currency exchange counter or?
Nigel Riggins: Sure I'll jump in for that one. I mean I think one of the things that people are used to is going to the exchange counter, there's a board that's got a bunch of numbers on it they're not quite sure about. They're charged a fee and then-
Mike Kelly: That sounds correct, yes. You have no idea what's happening.
Nigel Riggins: Exactly right. After you spent a lot of time trying to save money on your flight and on your hotel and on your transportation, you just go and do this. So I think part of the cool thing about CashSwap is I think we simplify the process. W we're not giving you a rate that's less than market rate. We are literally providing to consumers the market rate. And what we're doing is we're giving them information. Because if you knew what that market rate was, you could exchange currency for the market rate yourself. So what we're doing is we're connecting them. The fee that comes in is a flat 3.99. So currently we're running the app. It's free because we want, you know, it's part about traction, part of having people really understand the value. But ultimately, you know, our plan is to charge and that fee again is a flat 3.99.
Mike Kelly: So what is my user experience if I land in Ireland and need to do a currency conversion? So I can get off the plane, I pop up in your app, what happens?
Nigel Riggins: Yes.
Ben Diallo: Yes. Well you get off the plane and then, here. That's the cool thing with the app cause it's just instant. You put in the currency you have, you have US dollar and then the currency you're looking for. If you're looking for something pound. So you just put in the pound you have, the amount you have and then the app will tell you how much you're saving, if you use CashSwap. And how much you're going to be charged if you go to the kiosk at the airport, too. So you can see your savings. And then once you decide to move forward, the app will tell you how many people are in your vicinity and the effort where you can meet up with and then exchange.
Mike Kelly: So they would get a push notification, I'm assuming, on their side?
Nigel Riggins: Yes. So practically what happens is you have, as Ben said, there's a number of people in the vicinity. And so if you're looking for a euro and you have dollars because you didn't trade before you left, there were people who were actually looking for dollars, right?
Mike Kelly: I did not trade before I left, no.
Nigel Riggins: Okay. And most people, a lot of people, don't actually.
Mike Kelly: Right.
Nigel Riggins: So they're looking for dollars. And so what happens practically is in the app, as Ben said, you decide to swap, you would, you know, go through the payment process and then you would have a queue. And that queue shows you all the people in your vicinity in terms of their rating, the, you know, location in terms of which terminal they're in, and the amounts. Now you can't see their pictures. We've obscured that for security reasons. But what you can make is a determination of who's closest to you and who you would like to swap with based maybe on their rating or based on their location, if they were closest to you. Then what you can do is the app enables communication between the parties.
Nigel Riggins: So once you've selected them and they've selected you, it's a push notification for the selection, right? It sends a request to them and says, "Hey, someone would like to swap with you." And then, you know, you can accept it or not. If you accept it, puts you in a queue that you can then communicate with them. Text, video, conference or phone call. And the goal there is of course to set up a place where you guys would like to meet in the airport where everyone feels comfortable and we always recommend, of course, public places.
Mike Kelly: Right. Awesome. All right, good. I got it. Thank you.
Nigel Riggins: Excellent.
Mike Kelly: Great, great idea. So, current status of the company. So for somebody who's listening, any vanity metrics at all you can share to help paint a picture? In your case, really cool vanity metric might be the amount of currency exchanged. I think that could be kind of cool if you know that. But anything you can do to help?
Ben Diallo: Well we just want ... we've been working on the app for a while now for a couple years, but we just officially launch at JFK airport a couple of months ago. And so far people have been very receptive with the idea. They love the idea and then with the people that we talk to at the airport, they're all willing to use the app. So they'll download the app and then we'll swap with them. For the app to work first you need to have both parties. So Markum's strategy right now is to launch by airport so we can be there to facilitate those first swap. So right now at JFK we've been very, I'll say, successful because all the people that we've talked to, they say this is a great idea. I wish I knew. If they already actually exchanged the currencies, they'll say, "Well I wish I knew this before I change my currency." Or they'll say, "Oh this is cool. Let me just try to download the app. And so we can, you know, I'll see how much money I will say."
Ben Diallo: So far we have some good reception. So we averaged about 50 swaps a week, which is people using the app in exchanging. And then the average per swap was around $200, you know, they usually exchange. So we can ... we did have ... that's come about $40,000 a month so far.
Mike Kelly: Can I ask what's like the biggest swap that's happened so far? Is it like a like a six figure swap or anything like that?
Nigel Riggins: Yeah, no. So one of the things I would offer is that what we do is we do put a cap on the amount that people can swap per day. So it's done first for primarily safety reasons and also in the research we've done ahead of time, people aren't walking around with tens of thousands of dollars on them as they travel between countries. So what we did is we decided is 2000 was a number that we thought most people would, you know, swap less than that. So just wanted to limit that.
Mike Kelly: Totally legit.
Ben Diallo: So the limit, the cap, is $2000.
Nigel Riggins: Correct, per day.
Mike Kelly: Can I pick at some of the stuff that you guys said in there? So the launch by airport, super interesting in thinking about it that way. What does a launch by airport look like? Are you buying like traditional signage? Are you like ... how are you getting the word out at an airport?
Ben Diallo: So yeah, we're doing different approaches to marketing. We do a lot of social media marketing, geo targeting in the airport and Facebook ads, Instagram ads and stuff like that. But we also have a team of sales associate at the airport that will go and talk to a fellow travelers and you know, pass out, you know, business cards and tell them about the app. So that's one of ways that we're doing. Where we find out also advertisement is very expensive at JFK.
Mike Kelly: I expect so, yes.
Ben Diallo: So yeah, so that's something we wanted to do, but we don't have any physical ads yet at the airport.
Nigel Riggins: One of the things I think that we're learning, I mean, JFK is very much been a pilot for us, right? So testing our idea and, you know, people's receptivity to it and that is this something that people want? Is it in proper context? Is it something that they will use going forward? And that's why I've been saying this has been really warmly received because those things have happened. How to get a broader audience, how to get that concentration of people in a location. You know, I think that's part of the mix that startups are trying to figure out to become successful for whatever area they're in. We're still trying to figure that out ourselves. We're trying a bunch of different things. I think part of it for us has been trying to think outside the box for ways to establish a presence, but you know ... and also deal with the challenges that exist at a larger airport.
Mike Kelly: What kind of particularly come to mind, because you're in New York, what kind of regulatory or legal hurdles have you had to jump through to be able to even launch at JFK or has that not been an issue?
Nigel Riggins: So CashSwap is not regulated because we are not providing a rate to people. What we're doing is we're providing information to people about what the market rate is. Again, as I said earlier, if you knew what the market rate was and you knew someone else would swap with you, why would you lose money to trade your own money going to a kiosk? No, you'd do it yourself if you could do it safely. And so that's what we do. It's a networking app. So that's how we position ourself. And because of that, we believe that there's not the same hurdles that currency exchange companies have to jump through because they are in fact providing a rate. They are in fact doing things that are highly regulated and we are not. We're, again, facilitating people to connect and meet.
Ben Diallo: We don't make any money on the currency exchange itself, so customers that exchanged on the market rate, so the only fee we charge just to get you connected to each other.
Nigel Riggins: It's a service free, correct.
Mike Kelly: Yeah. Okay, perfect. Talk a little bit about what you think future roll outs look like. So I think you said, Ben, you said you'd continue down that path of rolling out by airport. Is that taking the east coast and expanding or what? Like I'd love to know the thoughts, because I've never gone through the thought experiment of how would I roll up travelers. Like I'd love your thoughts on how you guys are planning to do that.
Ben Diallo: The plan that we have right now is to ... JFK first was because this is the busiest international airport in the US. And then after JFK, we have Miami in LA. So that's the goal. But we wanted to come back home here in Indiana and then we have couple of few flights here that are international flights. Maybe we want to do another launch in Indy, just make sure that anybody live in Indianapolis because this is our home town. And then anybody live in Indy that need currency exchange would be, will have our services, yeah. So in the next couple months we'll be holding out here in Indianapolis and then after here we'll go to more international airports.
Nigel Riggins: Yeah. And I, I think it's like a, it's a multiple prong sort of approach to this, right? While we are advertising and seeking people and letting them know that we exist elsewhere has been saying the focus is, you know, airport by airport to try to help facilitate. So, so like think about Uber. When Uber first started, right. There weren't tons of drivers. There were times when you and people remember, you know, and, and the guy in our shop talks about this a lot, but you know, Uber were to a city and there weren't that many drivers. And so you could be a member of the app but you couldn't really get a ride. Well, we're in that beginning phase where we are literally, as been said, just launched. We're just growing. So this goal of facilitating goes hand in hand with another, which is, you know, trying to reach out and let people know that we exist through the social media channels that he mentioned.
Mike Kelly: So if I hit too close to anything, again, you're allowed to wave me off, tight? You don't have to answer anything. One of the thing that occurs to me particularly thinking about Indianapolis relative to JFK, right? Because, yeah, we have a couple of international flights, but it's nothing like JFK. It, you know, what's particularly interesting about thinking through that for me is there's almost like in my mind if I was thinking about launching this or it almost be this perverse incentive to have somebody on the team in the terminal with $2,000 worth of five different currencies, right? So you think of where we fly into, right? It's going to be euros, probably primarily pounds maybe. Right? Like think of the places we're flying into and then you like you just literally have a plant there who's the person you can connect with, right? And it's their job to sit there all day. Is that part of what you're doing?
Nigel Riggins: That is the street team, right? That is the team that, yes, go for it.
Ben Diallo: Yeah that's the strip team. That's how we say it. When you at the beginning, we want to be that facilitate those swaps. By facilitating I mean we there as a, you know-
Mike Kelly: I love it.
Ben Diallo: Yes, we have different ground teams.
Nigel Riggins: Yes. We literally have all of the currencies.
Mike Kelly: All of the currencies.
Ben Diallo: We have a lot of currencies, so.
Nigel Riggins: Yes we do. We do. And at JFK, you had to. Right? because there's flights from all over.
Mike Kelly: That's amazing. Oh yeah, at JFK you totally have to.
Ben Diallo: I might need a bodyguard.
Nigel Riggins: That's pretty strong, I don't know.
Mike Kelly: I expect you guys to be bigger.
Nigel Riggins: That's why we wear the jackets.
Mike Kelly: Nice. All right. So let's, let's switch gears. Competition. When you think of competitors for CashSwap, obviously there's the traditional brick and mortar cash competitor. Is there anybody else digitally trying to do what you're doing?
Nigel Riggins: So there's a company that we swap out of London, so we swap. What they do is different. You send your money to them and they send you a card. And that's not quite on all fours exactly what we're doing. But, you know, we saw spin around for awhile and that got some traction.
Mike Kelly: So they're giving you like a prepaid visa card type of thing?
Nigel Riggins: Yes. Yes, yes.
Mike Kelly: Okay.
Nigel Riggins: And so the thing is, if you ... so what we did is we looked at the transaction, okay, and what happens. Why are the traditional ones that are at the airports exclusive and so successful? Why do they make, you know, I think one of them as far as we could tell up like $800 million of profit, right? Well it's because people go to the airport and they say, "Ah, I did not exchange my cash. I need to get some cash." And they will only take cash. Right? You can't use our credit card. I guess you could credit cash advance. I don't think that's necessarily the most economical thing, but it's cash and so they, they need cash and in exchange you're getting cash.
Nigel Riggins: And so all we're doing is replicating that experience. But what we're doing is we're adding convenience to it because those places aren't always open. They might not have the currencies you need. People are not always nice. We're giving control to consumers. So when you're traveling you can choose who you're picking. It can be convenient because you can pick a location that works for both parties. And so we're trying to add convenience to it. And then quite frankly, you're saving a lot of money.
Ben Diallo: Yeah. The most important thing is definitely saving.
Nigel Riggins: Yes.
Ben Diallo: Because just an example is you go to our app or our website, you can see that if you have a thousand dollar and then you're looking for to exchange that in euros, you're going to get about ... you'd be saving about $110 on that one transaction, which is a lot of money. So $110, you can use that to, you know-
Mike Kelly: That's a couple of bottles of wine while you're in Europe.
Ben Diallo: Yes, yes, definitely.
Mike Kelly: Sorry I was trying to-
Ben Diallo: Dinner on the Champs Elysees or something like that, right?
Mike Kelly: Right.
Nigel Riggins: And so yeah and so a lot of it for us is making that transaction, you know, meeting people where they are and then just improving the experience that they have. Making it something that's, you know, more convenient, saves them money. And that's where we think we bring a lot of value to the table.
Mike Kelly: Talk to me a little bit about international expansion. How do you guys think you start to tackle that? Is that actually going into those countries and following the same tactics you followed here? Is that trying to find franchise partners in those countries? I'd love your thoughts. And you're not there yet and I get that, but I'd love your thoughts around it.
Ben Diallo: Yeah. Well, again, overall plan is to we're doing airport by airport, so after we finish with the US airport, we get some tractions here, the goal is to expand in Europe first. We have all those biggest airport in the world, you know, Charles de Gaulle. And then from Europe and that we'll just use the same approach we did here, same thing in New York. Ad then from there we'll expand to the Middle East, Dubai and all over.
Nigel Riggins: Part of that too, just tagging along way with Ben saying, we understand that the same approach may not work, you know, as we go place to place. Right? So the airports in the US, right, we predominantly have traveled I mean all over, but very familiar with the US system. We're building relationships with people in the airports in the US. Ben just got back from a conference actually and so with people who run airports in the US. And so we're building those relationships. We know that internationally it may be different. And so part of our approach, too, is being nimble and being open to adjustment. And it may be adjustments in the way that we market. It may be adjustments in the, you know, the way the street team, if you will, works at the airport.
Nigel Riggins: What we do know psychologically is that people in Europe, right, are dealing with currency on a more regular basis. I just got back from Barcelona. You can throw a rock and hit a currency exchange. They're literally everywhere. It's a high tourist area, right? There are lots of people exchanging currencies, so we know that the approach there, even the reception there, may be a lot different than it is here. And so what we're doing is our plan is designed to adjust based on sort of the experience of what's happening on the ground.
Ben Diallo: Yeah. We're also open to, you know, we are looking for partnerships. So, like Nigel said, we're just at the Petri Airport conference, met up with different airport authorities and I think a nice partnership with those airport will help for us, you know, facilitate, you know, this all better because at the end we are ... what we are giving to people is just the ease to facilitate, to make currency action seamless. Right now it's a hassle. So I think once if the airport see that benefit that we provide to the customers will be a good partnership, we'll make a lot of people happy.
Mike Kelly: Why do you think the time is now for an app like this?
Nigel Riggins: I mean, I'll go first. But I mean look around. I mean, I think all on your phone, look at the number of apps you have, the number of things that people are finding. Uber, you know, we go to that, Airbnb is another great example, but you know, people are figuring out how to do things themselves, save money. For some, they're making money while doing it. But, but I think there's this idea that, you know, this traditional system that has existed for a long time, you know, there are ways that it can be done better. There are ways that it can be improved upon there are ways that people can save money doing it. There are ways that it can be more convenient. And I think, you know, we've literally hit square on, you know, and Ben, you know, Ben has done, you know, created businesses and has experienced this area.
Nigel Riggins: But like I think that entrepreneurial spirit has helped because as he traveled, he found a problem. And then he thought, like he said, "Oh I could've done that myself." And then it was like, "Okay, how do I do it myself?" You know, and what's the best means to do it myself? How do I get, you know, how do I get other people engaged? I think just everything that's happening around us and I think, you know, just the idea itself, the timing is perfect and you know, disruption wise that everyone's talking disruption. There's not a lot of instruction to currency exchange. I mean, it's kind of the forgotten thing.
Nigel Riggins: And when you look at a travel plan, you have people ... like as I said earlier, I'm saving on my flights, right? There's a billion sites I can go to to save money on getting an airline ticket or a hotel or a car rental, you know, but there's not a thought given the same way to changing currency. But the irony of it is you're literally losing money. You're just trying to get a different currency, but you're losing money and not just a little bit. You're losing a lot of money to exchange your own money.
Ben Diallo: So definitely, yeah, monopoly is there and then the banking industry has that monopoly. Then with a company like Travelex. So I think with CashSwap this will definitely bring back a the ... how do you call ... will just help people just save more money on when they handle it themselves as peer to peer exchange.
Nigel Riggins: And last thing I would say is that travel for people is different now. You talk to people all the time, they're traveling internationally more than ever. In fact, the numbers indicate that, you know, the travel market is growing. The US travel markets only, we're about the hundred ... yeah, we're about 5% of the global travel market. So our idea certainly has applications here, but really the applications are out there. I mean that's really where the money is. That's where the opportunity is. But we think there's a solid foundation we can establish here in this country and then go from there.
Mike Kelly: Talk to me a little bit about security. So you had mentioned before, you know, you're facilitating a connection. We can do video, chat, text, whatever is appropriate for me to get comfortable and you recommend a public place. But I'm specifically thinking about like if I flew to Africa for the first time, I'm positive I would have no clue what legit African currency is supposed to look like. So I can meet somebody in the airport. They would be like, "Yep, here's your cash." And I would have no clue if I got real cash, if I got fake cash. How do you, how do you handle that?
Ben Diallo: Well, Mark, right now what we do, we have a library of Malt, the most traded currency on a app. We can go ahead and see the security futures and then what we have. And so you can be familiar with the currency that you get in. But we also working in the future to maybe have a scanner within the app. They'll scan the currency and let you know if it's authentic or not. So but you can ... go ahead.
Nigel Riggins: Yeah, no, Ben's right. The camera's eye, if you will, can see much better than ours can and knows what to look for. And if you actually start, it's funny, we started doing the research and learning a lot about currencies and certain currencies. There's multiple places authorized to issue those currencies. So loading in those currencies in and it's actually, it's really fascinating. I get excited talking about it. But Ben's right, I think the future is looking at, you know, the ability for our technology that we carry around in our pocket to be able to help us authenticate, you know, with a certain degree of certainty of course. But that currency, you know, is real.
Nigel Riggins: And then the other thing too is education for people. I mean it's, it's a different approach but it's encouraging. I think it goes beyond just an app. I think it's about education when you travel and being safe when you travel. It's smart things to do when you travel. It's not just a, hey, let me just narrowly focus on the money. You know, there's so many opportunities out there for travel for people, you know. We want to be part of that story for educating them.
Mike Kelly: Excellent. Ben, you hit briefly on a feature in the roadmap, potentially adding, you know, scanning for currency to check authenticity. What are some of the other things when you think of this business, this product, maybe three years from now, as you think of the roadmap, what are some of the things you guys are excited about?
Ben Diallo: There years from now hopefully the app will be very well known and then we'll, you know, we make the-
Nigel Riggins: World domination by that point.
Ben Diallo: Yes. We'll make currency exchange seamless and you know, so you don't have to worry about, you know when you're traveling overseas it's just simple and. But like I said, we working on the currency scanner that will be, that'll be huge to add because normally you have a lot of currencies. Just to be able to scan different currency at the, you know, with your phone and then make sure that we have time to get in the app all those courtesy would be huge. But yeah we just ... we have proven the design on the app. The app is great, it's very user friendly. But we thinking about, you know, adding more, more option, more features. Then when you came into the app, you can ... we'll give you tips. When you go into Paris will tell you top five restaurants or top five things to do when you in Paris. Just make a control that the app is we can just way to get back to the app and then you know-
Mike Kelly: You have another reason to come back.
Ben Diallo: More information. Just social sharing and stuff like that.
Nigel Riggins: Yeah. And for me, I, you know, I got a couple things. We have an airport configurator that I'm excited to ... we've been working on. S When you open the app now, right, it tells you what airport you're at. What I would like it to do, right, in the future iterations, it's going to also be able to pull up the information for that airport. So in terms of choosing where you are in the airport and identifying, it's going to make-
Mike Kelly: Just like you have pickup points in Uber.
Nigel Riggins: Yes, yes.
Mike Kelly: You have an exchange point.
Nigel Riggins: But mapping airports is not a thing that we've been able to at least find company that's got the map, you know, in the same way that you map your street outside, right? Because you're mapping internally in a building, that's a completely different animal. Yeah, so that's something that I think is really cool. I think it's on the horizon. I think there are baby steps and roll outs that we can do until we get there, but I think that would be awesome. In three years, maybe. I mean that's ... there are things that you can do to get a lot closer to that. I think another thing too is just you know on the verification process on the front end that you know, enhancing, you know there's a lot of programs out there, so emulating programs that are really robust and make users continue to feel safe with them. Yeah.
Mike Kelly: As you guys think about the next six months, what's the thing that has you the most stressed? What are you doing now or will be doing very shortly that is the all consuming thing? Is it lighting up new airports? Is that, is that what it is? Is it ...
Ben Diallo: Well I think what's most stressful to me right now, just getting those partnership with airport. We been talking to JFK for almost over a year now just to get kiosk to be able to get the kiosk at the airport, just the politics of getting in is so difficult. So, so hopefully we will find the best way to approach airport and then to be able to have a kiosk there in short terms so we can be in and then facilitate those swap. That's one of my stress I think right now.
Nigel Riggins: Well and I'll just jump in. One of mine is just, it's the one that startups have. It's like, you know, building something and having people come. So in terms of idea, I think we have a good idea and we've kind of piloted it, you know, if you will. Kinda that's what's happening at JFK. So we've been testing the idea, yes it works. And yes, people are receptive. But it's, you know, it's still, you know, creating a broad enough audience to have a concentration. The facilitation, it only works so far, right? You can facilitate swaps and that's great, but what needs to happen is that people say, "Oh, I've heard of this idea. This is great. I'm going to do this on my own." Because that's what makes something work. That's how you get explosive growth. It can't be that we facilitate every swap.
Nigel Riggins: It's finding better ways to connect with people, to tell them about the app and educate them and then having them go out and do it. And with the average American traveling, you know, one to two times, right, per year, internationally, well, what we're having to do is we're having to get a broad audience. Right? Because in order to reach the people, it's been talked about repeated users, the stickiness, if you will, in a way I guess, of the app. We have to figure out different ways to do that because our model looks different than certain other apps that, you know, Facebook that I'm going to open every 10 minutes on my phone. Our app, it is in a different place in their profile, but it's one that they have to have, I think, if you're going to be traveling and trying to save money while you travel, you definitely want the CashSwap app.
Mike Kelly: That's what you're most worried about. What are you most excited about the next year? What's the next big milestone?
Ben Diallo: Well, again, it's just traction. What we are more excited about is with the better test we have in New York, just seeing that people love the idea and then that they're willing to use the app. That what was before was just an idea that we put a lot of time in building the app and then getting it work correctly. So once we launched, we have actual users and people that thankful for the saving that they're getting from the app, which is, I think, the best part for me.
Nigel Riggins: Yeah. And I think I echo that. I mean, having people use the app and really that ... it's the Aha moment. It's kind of like when you tell them about the idea, it's, you know, the application is different because it's like, "Oh yeah, that's, that's cool." But it's the Aha moment when they experience the idea and they're like, I" just saved a lot of money." You know, and I had someone that went to Greece recently, she and I were talking. She had opened the app or she's like, man I wish I could have used this because I would have saved a lot of money. And it's that, that click that happens, that light bulb that goes off in people's head. I think that for us is really cool because I mean we travel a lot. We've had this experience ourselves and so we, you know, talk to people, Ben talked to a lot of people before building the app. That's kind of how we came up with the design we came up with. But it's just having that connection kind of makes it ... it's really cool. So it makes it worth it.
Mike Kelly: How many repeat users have you had at JFK? Do you know?
Ben Diallo: Repeat user, I know of two that I swap with, because one, this guy who was coming from Puerto Rico, he has a lot of Puerto Rican Pesos, I believe. And then he was so excited because he exchanged with us and then he called me back a few days ago and then he wanted to exchange again because that time we have the limit to exchange in, and so he came back again and use the app to exchange the rest of his currency, so.
Nigel Riggins: Yeah. And I think on the whole we're new and so as of yet, you know, there haven't been a lot. I mean that's, that's one of the rare-
Mike Kelly: Yeah, yeah. No, I think it's fine. It's, it's just interesting. So part of what's packed in there is one, me thinking of how many people are traveling for business, which would be repeat customers versus leisure travel, which would feel a lot more episodic. Right? Which from a user experience to get to know and from a customer acquisition strategy perspective gets interesting. Right? Because you would probably segment both of those strategies based on leisure travel versus business travel.
Ben Diallo: Yeah. You definitely have 164 million people leaving in and out of the US every year. You know, those are all international travelers. And then those numbers rose from 2014 I think, but and then the industry is growing every at least 3% every year. So yeah, there are a lot of people traveling and then about 40% of those people traveling there, they all carry some cash, you know, in their currency. And then Nigel say earlier, that's only 5% of the world market. So JFK alone at terminal four, there's 70,000 people that go into that terminal four every day. I mean it's a lot of people.
Mike Kelly: So how long do you think it takes? So one of the things that's nice about a repeat traveler is you get, you've only, you only pay the cost of customer acquisition once, right? In theory. And obviously the more they use it, the more likely they are to tell somebody else about it. What do you think as you start building that flywheel at JFK how long until it is a self sustaining flywheel? How long until you think, based on your current projections, until you don't have to be there physically doing the swaps, but you've got enough of either repeat users or word of mouth that people are downloading the app and just using it themselves?
Nigel Riggins: Yeah, I think we measure that in the way of swaps, right? So it's how many swaps are happening on a monthly basis. independent, I guess in total, but independent of us facilitating them because once you have that basis without us having to be, we can facilitate and help but to independently have a ... it's proof of life, right? It's that it has its own heartbeat and that it's self sustaining and that it can exist without us having to be there. Certainly you help it and nurture it and those things, but at the end of the day, you need a certain number of, I think, swaps happening on their own. And that's kind of, to me, one of the metrics for success at a particular airport.
Mike Kelly: And I know you're guessing, but do you have any guess for what you think that is?
Nigel Riggins: Yeah, I mean, ballpark guess to me is about 400 swaps a month.
Mike Kelly: So you're not far from that.
Nigel Riggins: We're not right now. It's free. Right? So, you know-
Mike Kelly: 400 swaps a month at four bucks. Yeah.
Nigel Riggins: So now you switched. Yeah. And it's ... and it would be 3.99 from each party.
Mike Kelly: Nobody who's paying what they're currently paying for fees would, I would think, would balk at $4 dollars.
Nigel Riggins: I don't think they would either. In fact, there's, you know, there's a logic to the number, but I think part of it as well though, is that it's a new experience that people haven't had yet. And so that's why that's the logic of making it free because we want you to experience it and understand the value proposition you get. Oh, I saved some money. But when you experience it, it's like the light bulb moment I was talking about. It's a different ... now you're going to tell your friends because you're like, oh my gosh, like don't go, don't go to the kiosk in the airport. You know, there's a, there's an easier way to do it.
Ben Diallo: Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I'm taking, you know, probably maybe more than 400 swap a month, but we'll get to those numbers later on.
Nigel Riggins: And just for clarification, it's 400 where we're not facilitating. That's the reporting piece because it's independent. Yes. Yeah.
Ben Diallo: Right now most of our swaps are facilitated.
Mike Kelly: It's a guess. You don't know, like you can't know yet. You're just getting started.
Nigel Riggins: Correct.
Mike Kelly: These are awful questions to ask you because you have no idea how to answer them. I totally get it. It's, you know, there's a couple reasons to ask it, right? One is a just signaling for how you guys are thinking about the business. Right? And what does ignition really mean in a business like this? And how would you know it's taken off too, for other people who are listening who are thinking about a business model like this where by reality is actually a, it's a requirement, right? Like you can't ... I mean, everybody wants the next viral app, right? But like, you guys can't actually exist unless you get there. Right? Versus, you know, there's tons of businesses that can, right? Even though they may not have that component.
Mike Kelly: So, so just thinking through that from the bottom up, like like you guys are doing right now, like you have to come up with a go to market strategy that supports that. You have to have some key metrics that you're trying to figure out in your first markets to to even start to build a model for like, okay, this is what we think self-sustaining looks like at JFK. Now we want to do that at five other airports here in the US and then we want to do it that at 10 airports in Europe and then we want to, you know, whatever that is. Like it's those models that you're using to think about cashflow and runway and like what's the team got to look like and all that stuff. Right? So to me it's just like there's no wrong answer to those. I just love that you had an answer pretty quickly and that, you know, there's a model behind that, that that's in there.
Ben Diallo: We do have several projection and then we know when we will be cash positive. So, you know, the goal with this year where you have millions of people traveling every day and then, you know, if we can get, you know, to, even if it's 1% of those people using the app every day, I will be, you know, we'll be very successful.
Nigel Riggins: Yeah. And I, you know, I think that the thing was the forecast that Ben's talking about, a lot of what we do is spend a fair amount of time just going and talking about, you know, adjustments that need to be made and adapting. I think any startup that, you know, can't be nimble, can't adapt, is not long for this world because it's just the nature of the beast. And so a lot of times ... and then the other thing is we're trying to meet a lot of people and learn from them. I think one of the best things that we've done is establish some good connections with people. And that has ... we've learned a lot of information. It actually helped us on our app quite frankly. We were in a competition recently and one of the people in competition made a suggestion and it helped us out. And so I think learning from other people is another metric for success for us in terms of ... because it's, it's helping us leverage what we have and extended further than we could if we were just doing it by ourselves.
Mike Kelly: Yeah. Awesome. Gentlemen, I don't want to take up more of your time. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. If somebody wanted to get in touch with you, how would they do that?
Nigel Riggins: Yes. So you can contact me. This is Nigel at Nigel@cashswapapp.com.
Ben Diallo: And same email for you. Ben@cashswapapp.com and we are available and yeah, ready to chat with anybody that has some anything helpful. Yeah.
Mike Kelly: And if you're flying out of Indy next week internationally, they'll be able to find you at the airport.
Nigel Riggins: They likely will be able to find one of us at the airport. it's great, exactly.
Mike Kelly: That's awesome.
Nigel Riggins: We are always there, always traveling, so it's a high likelihood that you'll see us.
Mike Kelly: Awesome. All right. Thanks guys.
Nigel Riggins: Thank you.
Ben Diallo: Thank you for having us. Thanks.