Singapore-based fintech startup YouTrip is a now officially an anomaly: It managed to raise US$50 million in what is a relatively challenging period for fintech funding given high interest rates, an uncertain global economy and persistent geopolitical tensions in different parts of the world. In an interview with Nikkei Asia, CEO Caecilia Chu said YouTrip, together with a local financial partner, would launch its multicurrency wallet in Malaysia in a few months’ time while simultaneously beefing up its presence in Singapore and Thailand.

At first blush, YouTrip’s business strategy looks fairly sound. Singapore is Southeast Asia’s key financial hub, and can serve as a jumping-off point for the rest of the region. Being based there allows YouTrip to access the city-state’s strong fintech ecosystem, in particular funding channels. At the same time, given its focus on travel as a multicurrency wallet, there are a lot of nearby destinations where YouTrip’s customers to use its products.

Indeed, for all the efforts to enhance financial connectivity among the Asean countries, there is no regional currency like the euro in Europe. Each country has its own central bank, and the Singapore-Brunei arrangement which allows their respective currencies to be used in both countries is the exception rather than the rule. This reality makes a multicurrency wallet targeting Southeast Asia a good idea – if it can be profitable.

And on that point, the jury is still very much out. After all, Revolut’s core products still are centered on its multicurrency wallet, and it has a hard time making a profit from that alone. What makes Revolut attractive to investors now is the possibility that it could offer full-fledged banking services across multiple markets.

So how does YouTrip make money? Instead of charging conversion fees, YouTrip takes a cut from the merchant processing fees when users pay through its app or prepaid cards at brick-and-mortar stores and online. The company has issuing licenses with Mastercard and Visa.

Caecilia Chu told Nikkei Asia that in Singapore travelers often pay using their foreign-issued credit cards but incur currency conversion fees that can usually exceed 3.5%. But this problem can often be mitigated by paying in local currency. And there are numerous credit cards available that have no foreign transaction fees.

Chu told Nikkei that the downturn in travel demand during the pandemic kept the company's “size and business in check,” but that it became "operationally profitable" this year. That’s certainly a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t shed a lot of light on whether the company will reach positive net income soon.