I’ve been traveling around the world for almost three years now and have become accustomed to the logistics of budget travel. I now plan on the go, and seamlessly navigate my way across the world with ease. However, there is one issue that is difficult to overcome. How to avoid the high fees when transferring or accessing your money from ATM or money exchange centers.
It is something that most travelers just accept as part of the cost of traveling. Each time I withdraw money at an ATM it costs my anywhere between $10-$15 in fees. When I exchange my money for the local currency I am charged anywhere between 3-10% surcharge or handling fee. Sometimes it isn’t even possible and some countries flat out will refuse the currency you currently hold.
While in Colombia, I came across an app that may provide a smart solution to avoid all of these fees completely. The application is called Zeepod and aims to eliminate the intermediary. The free application is attempting to disrupt the currency exchange market, by providing customers and bidders with direct currency exchanges costing them nothing!
HOW DOES ZEEPOD WORK?
Let me explain how that would work. This is essentially a peer to peer transaction that Zeepod helps to safely facilitate.
Imagine you have just arrived in Indonesia from Australia. Before you left you withdrew $1000 AUD for your 1-month stay in Indonesia. You begin to look around for a currency exchange booth and find money but the price they are offering is 5% less than the actual exchange rate you see online. You are about to lose $50 AUD just to exchange your money.
Enter Zeepod. When you open Zeepod the geolocation system will give you access to the purchase offers for Australian dollars. There are many other people who are on the Zeepod application who are looking for Australian dollars and want to trade their Indonesian Rupiah. They too want to avoid the costly exchange rate from the money transfer booth.
Once you select the bidder you will arrange to meet with the person via the chat option within the application. This peer to peer transaction eliminates the need for a money exchange center and eliminated the costly transfer fees or poor exchange rate being offered. You use the exact exchange rate so that neither party loses a cent. There is no negotiation about the rate as it set automatically by Zeepod.
The Geolocation system within the app helps you to locate bidders and other users who are nearby your location so it is easy to organize a meetup to make the exchange. The other great part is that unlike currency exchange centers, Zeepod never closes. You can make a transfer with another user at any hour, which can be very handy.
The big question I had about Zeepod was the issue of safety. You are carrying $1000 AUD to go and exchange it with a stranger! So what makes Zeepod safe? The profile of each user is attached to a cell number, ID number and Facebook profile. This means that the identity of the other user is easily verifiable, which makes it very safe and difficult for issues to arise.
There is also a feature in beta, which is called Zeepod remittances. When you need to send money to another country, it enables users to find other users who are traveling to that country and take the cash with them. This means you can now not only transfer your money in a country but you can send it for free globally with this peer to peer process.
Just like Uber and Airbnb, Zeepod is eliminating the middleman and making money transfer quick, easy and most importantly free! This is one of the best travel hacks I’ve come across in 2018!