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Hi, I'm Stuart from Roving Mitt Software


#1

Hi everyone, I’m a .net developer living in Perth, Western Australia. I work as a consultant and am bootstrapping my new project. I am the founder of Roving Mitt Software - we aim to put great software in the palm of your hand!

Our first product Shibby is currently under development. It’s a mobile currency exchange app aimed at the frugal traveller who is looking to save on currency exchange fees, commissions and poor exchange rates. If you return from an overseas holiday with small amounts of foreign currency it’s often not worth trying to exchange it. Now you can search for someone close by who needs the currency you have, agree on amount, then meet up and make the switch! Use it on the go in the airport, coffee shop, backpackers hostel, before you travel or anywhere with an internet connection.

I’m looking forward to participating in the conversations here and learning from all of you!

Stuart


#2

That’s interesting. Am I correct in guessing this will be people sourced (or whatever the cool term is) app, in that interested people meet up and do the exchange themselves?

If so, how do you plan to get the large number of people to make this practical?


#3

Having enough of the right foreign-currency was always a struggle for me when I traveled the fair bit.

How will you handle the safety concerns that come from broadcasting the fact that a person has money? It must be a concern considering the untraceable (in this case) and liquid nature of cash. How do you keep a bad person from using the app for his “business model”?


#4

That’s a good point. I think there is not much the app can do other than to recommend people only meet in public places. It’s a bit like a dating app/website, you wouldn’t have a first meetup at someone’s house. I think the app could also contain recommendations to increase a persons reputation.


#5

Hello Stuart,

First of all, best of luck in your project! :slight_smile:

I must say I have an alarm that goes up in my head when I read this:

Not only does it seem you are targeting consumers rather than businesses, but you are targeting FRUGAL consumers on MOBILE,where almost everything is already dirt cheap.

My 2 cents. (<----- see my nice pun?)


#6

Yes that’s correct. The same sort of marketing issues that all apps have apply here I think. We are doing SEO, using FB and twitter (@shibby_app) and will continue working on this as we get closer to launch. Also using the many travel forums and blogs to garner exposure and get some promotion via blog posts etc…


#7

@Lewis Yes, this is one of the biggest issues. We are wanting to target the ‘micro’ exchange market, so like sub USD$100-$150. If you have large amounts to exchange, you should be using the banks, airport booths or online service. In the same way that we all use an ATM at the mall etc… we need to be aware of our personal security. The app offers safety tips to users - always meet in a public place, exchange small bills (less chance of counterfeit notes), photos of the local currency and how to check it’s legit, don’t change large amounts, don’t divulge your home address or hotel location etc… if traveling.

Once the system has found a person nearby to match up with, the app requires you to take a photo of yourself. This must be exchanged with the other party before the exchange will proceed - this way you have a photo, not one from your camera roll, as a record of the people involved. A copy will be sent to our servers too. If one party declines this the app warns the user to not proceed as the other person might be trying to hide their identity etc… there will be the option to dismiss that warning though and still proceed at their own risk. Once they agree to meet, via in app chat, they can say where to meet, start heading to that location, and utilise geo support from the device to indicate proximity of the other party.

@Frozenlock The app will be ad supported with a paid ad-free version. This will also help to get people to try the app and spread the word. The travellers we are targeting, whilst frugal (maybe that wasn’t the best word to describe them), see the whole currency exchange market as a massive pain point.

Everybody hates the feeling of being ripped off, and this is the consistent feedback we’ve found from our customer research. Fees, hidden commissions, wildly varying cross rates eat into your hard earned cash. In that sense, backpackers or family holiday makers are very keen to have an alternative way to handle their currency exchange. Business travellers often just use a credit card for everything and in many cases never even get local currency. If they do, they are happy to keep it, knowing that they’ll be returning again soon to the same country.

@craigvn We are looking at a reputation system as well as possibly a partner/accredited user program. These partners could be coffee shops or vendors in airports/train stations who see lots of foreign travellers. They could be flagged by the system as trusted, which also helps with the security issues for travellers.


#8

Hi, Stuart.

In many places it is enough to kill for. And get that person’s mobile phone, too.

And you believed. Talk is talk. Safety is much bigger pain point.


#9

@rfctr I think you raise a good point… that everyone has a different risk profile. Everyone knows all tourists have money… either cash, credit cards, traveller cheques etc… What’s to stop you being mugged if you go to an ATM in one of these places you refer too? Or after you walk out of a local bank - people will assume you’ve got a new wad of cash on your person.

I think the presence of apps such as Tinder and Grindr and peoples willingness to meet up with a complete stranger, and then retire to a private secluded location for a much more intimate encounter, shows that people will assess the risk according to their own safety profile. There are many activities in which we humans take calculated risks. A prime example of this is hitchhiking. In an effort to save on taxi, train, bus or plane fare, people risk hopping into a strangers car. Money motivates people to think about both safety as well as saving it!


#10

Indeed. Crime is complicated. Criminals don’t download apps and go around looking for stupid foreigners. That’s the Hollywood version of crime. Most crime is opportunistic, and a few simple precautions can help you avoid most criminal attacks. The best site I found on this topic is http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/

While many geek types (esp in IT) are paranoid, most normal people do not show any such fear. They happily share their emails with strangers, put their whole lives on Facebook etc. Most people are willing to take accept that there is an element of danger in many things we do.

If you must, have a real security expert (someone who has worked as a police officer, bodyguard etc) give some tips on your website on how to stay safe. There are many such experts, and you can easily find one to write a few blog posts on staying safe while traveling. Again, Marc McYoung’s website is a good place to start looking.


#11

Disclaimer: Please do not take all said as a personal attack. I’m trying to make sure you do not waste your most precious resource - time - for nothing. If you believe you can counter the objections, then good for you. I do not claim any knowledge of the general travelling population, let along backpackers.

Loneliness is a much bigger pain point than a spare $100 in a foreign currency, and sex is a much bigger reward than said $100. So, while the existence of those applications proves that people can choose to take the risk, the reward levels make those applications incomparable to yours.

Exactly. I can risk all possessions I have on me to meet someone who I may spend the rest of my life with; or risk a few hundred dollars and a STD to have an exciting one night stand.

But my reward for using your app is not even $100, but the difference in the exchange rate between your application (“fair”) and an exchange stand (“not fair”).

How much is that, $10?

Does it even worth the effort, let along risk?

That’s called gullible. There are more rude terms for the same in the criminal circles, generally meaning “easy prey”.

The very same quality is responsible for blindly trusting to authorities (e.g. media). Consider this: once a few robberies of the application owners happen, an opportunistic newspaper publishes an article marking the users of the application as easy targets, the usage of the app would go down which will make its use pointless, which would make the usage go even more down… or this is just my negative thinking.


#12

Only bottom-feeder crime is opportunistic. Drug addicts and such. Stable mugging groups include at least a person marking up targets, a lookout/pursuit blocker and the hitter. (Not sure in English terms, but I guess the idea is clear).

Though I agree that using the phone app can make it too complicated. They need an account, which would be marked as a criminal one after at most a day of the usage. Pre-paid card can cover it. And they may use the mugged person phone for subsequent attacks…

This is as much an investment/reward for criminals as risk/reward for users.

If the app would analyse the suspicious behaviours and block the suspicious accounts, the rewards for criminals and risks for users can be reduced… with some false positives, of course (reminds me of PayPal).


#13

It’s fine, I wasn’t thinking that. I welcome all feedback. It’s valuable to see what peoples different thoughts and experiences are across the whole spectrum.


#14

My concern comes from experience.

I do believe the safety issue is one that can be managed and I’m glad to see that it’s not below the radar. I would seek feedback from current backpackers on this as soon as possible because I think the solution is one that will evolve.


#15

So far our feedback has been positive. I even have a couple of stories of travellers needing local currency after hours and only having USD$, so they literally walked up to a person and said hey, are you interested in swapping some money? The guy says yes, and both parties walk away happy with the exchange. No fees, no hassles!


#16

Reminds me of those “dolphins pushing people to shore” stories. Just saying.