In a recent interview with LearnBonds.com, Pelikin CEO and Founder Sam Brown explained they are helping Australian travelers to handle their funds while exploring the world. At the same time, he mentioned they want to become the leading travel and money product in the market.
1. What separates Pelikin from challenger banks, some of whom offer similar services?
“Well, in my view, what we’re doing at Pelikin is fixing a problem. That problem being that currently, Australian travelers don’t have a normal relationship with their money when they travel. I think some of the challenger banks are doing great things, building some swish products and spending loads on advertising campaigns. I’m not convinced that they are fixing a problem that exists for Australian banking consumers.
Transactional banking in Australia is pretty good. You can buy things without fees, send money without fees, view your balances with a few taps, and get help when you need it. But when you head overseas, this relationship is ripped apart. That’s what we’re fixing at Pelikin, we’re bridging the gap between people and their money when they travel. We’re making it normal.”
2. Do you plan to become a bank in the future?
“Nope. We’ve established an innovative and reputable and reliable supply chain to bring a great proposition to the market. We don’t need to become a bank to provide our product or to scale our product. The fact that we’re not a bank means we can focus on what’s really important, building a strong brand, increase product distribution and acquisition, and building cool and useful products without the burdens and overheads that come with being a bank. I guess you could say it’s our ’secret sauce’.”
3. Are you valued as a unicorn, a private firm valued at $1bn or over? If not, when do you expect to hit that valuation?
“Hard to say on this one. I’m on a mission to successfully launch Pelikin in Australia and grow the business and product locally and globally and of course, to make a profit and reward all of our loyal investors. When we do that, the valuation will have looked after itself.”
4. How many Pelikin prepaid Visa cards have you issued, and how many active accounts does your platform handle?
“We organically accrued a waitlist of about 2000 travelers and so we’ve been welcoming them aboard before flicking the switch on a full-scale launch. This is now imminent. So far, Pelikin has been used in over 50 countries, and we’re receiving some positive and very useful feedback from our Pelikin Squad. It’s our plan to reach 30k squad members by the end of 2020.
In terms of what we can handle, we’re ready to scale and ready to scale at pace.”
5. You now allow customers to trade in 150 countries, which are the main issues Pelikin faces in order to allow them to spend funds in new regions?
“The challenges a quite minimal, as if a merchant in a particular country accepts Visa, then the Pelikin card is likely going to be accepted. It does add a level of complexity facilitating payments in such a large number of regions from a CX perspective, factoring in all currencies into our mobile experiences and accurately offering live exchange rates in the relevant time zones to everyone at the time they transact… I know our tech team had a lot of fun on that one.
There’s also just the different risks that come with facilitating a service in 150 countries. Things like how developed the payments infrastructure is, the socioeconomic conditions, etc. It all plays a part.”
6. You have recently formed a joint venture with the insurance company Travel By Us, what is the aim of this partnership?
“We are essentially allowing the Pelikin Squad to build their travel insurance policies to suit their budget and to suit how they travel.
Travel By Us is a like-minded company, allowing us to offer an incredible end-to-end travel insurance product for its users, which can be easily purchased and managed within the Pelikin app. Travel By Us’ multi-tiered travel insurance has been designed to cover all aspects of a young traveler’s itinerary. From snow to surf, and to protect sacred smartphones and laptops, Pelikin customers are now able to cover it all and manage it with ease.
The Travel By Us founder, Ben, is an Insurtech veteran, and his Travel By Us team is a passionate group of experienced travelers, developers, insurance brokers, and customer care people. Their difference is the inclusivity of cover, having more options for medical conditions that are typically not covered, extras to suit all types of travelers and cover for every budget. It’s this super flexible offering that appealed to Pelikin, and we wanted to offer this to our cardholders.
Unfortunately, many Australian travel insurers don’t offer a range of cover options for different ages and abilities. Travel By Us recognized that this was an issue and wanted to close this gap in the market and offer affordable and flexible protection for all Australians. This means that all Australian residents, be that travelers aged 9 or 99 years old, travelers with medical conditions, travelers on a range of budgets, and even pregnant travelers are all able to cover with the right insurance for them.
We have lots more to do with Ben and his team, so watch this space in 2020.”
7. Do you plan to add loans and other financial services to the app, similar to the ones offered by challenger banks such as Revolut?
“It’s not in our immediate plans, but if the squad tells us they want something, we will always listen, so who knows. We’re on a mission to become the #1 travel and money product in Australia and so including other value-adding features and products into our banking app is something we’re eagerly and rapidly pursuing. This includes not only financial services but travel-related services so that Pelikin is touching every point of the young travelers’ journey. From trip ideation to take off, we want to be by their side the whole time.”
8. Do you consider Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) could make it easier for travelers to handle their spending in the future?
“Potentially one day, but I think fiat is firmly here to stay so that’s what we’ll focus on utilizing to make the Pelikin experience as amazing as it can be for millions of Australian travelers. I do keep an eye on the CBDCs news that flows through, as I find it interesting.”
9. The Australian Government has recently passed new legislation on consumer data rights, which would pave the way for the introduction of Open Banking. Australia became a pioneer in Open Banking, how is this affecting your business?
“Once it’s available, I think there are several powerful opportunities for us to create some powerful propositions within our product suite. I won’t share what those are, but I will say that I think there will be a hefty challenge in educating the Australian consumer about what Open Banking actually means for them and furthermore gaining in their trust so that they utilize it for their benefit.
I think we’ll have some great products and features rolled out in the back half of 2020 once Open Banking is in the market for all to take advantage of. It might be a slow burn, but the real winner (as it should be) is the consumer that’s for sure.”
Thank you, Sam, for the conversation!