Wayne Tsao, CEO
One could make the argument that the smartphone and the wallet are the reason why trouser pockets still exist today. Fundamentally, they are the only two things one needs to have on their person when they step outside, be it to the grocery store, or overseas. While phones are relatively easy to adapt to a foreign nation, the cash in the purse is not. With exchange rates, it is tricky, expensive, and time-consuming to convert the money at home to the host’s currency. Not that many people today still carry around a lot of cash, to begin with, but the problem is equally relevant to the plastic that took their place. With an overwhelming majority of foreign POS systems and ATMs still oblivious to Visa/ MasterCard/Amex, the need of the hour is a more ubiquitous and pervasive payment solution that is more widely accepted—something that takes the hassle out of making one’s money work all around the world. This is offered in the form of a card and app duo from New York-based payment solution provider ECARD. They provide an easy to use digital payment card, complete with its own ecosystem and application, which simplify the top down complexities associated with foreign currency exchange and merchant acceptance, anywhere and anytime.
Accepted Easily, Rewards Included
ECARD is one of the first UnionPay network prepaid cards on the market right now—the largest card network in the world. The company noted that it is very inconvenient to travel because of payment related constraints, especially for travelers to/from the U.S and Asia. Travelers need to have something in the palm of their hand that can make these payment processes easier. Owing to these disparate digital payment methods, travelers are forced to trade in cash, which means dealing with a lot of currency exchange and hidden fees. To put things in perspective, China currently has 24 percent Visa coverage, and 15 percent MasterCard. Subsequently, for anyone entering this market from the U.S, there would be considerable friction opposing their payment.Travelers are thus being forced to carry cash to exchange at the airport, at an exchange fee as high as 10 percent.
Secondly, it is very inconvenient because of the physical volume of the currency to be carried around.
Our goal is to eventually tie in with multiple merchants and become a global e-banking system, that doesn’t care where you are, where you go, all you need is to have the ECARD to live like a local
To avoid this, the alternative is to go to the bank and move those funds through other payment methods, fill out several foreign, unfamiliar forms, thereby wasting a lot of time in the process. ECARD provides a UnionPay card that can debit funds from the user’s U.S. bank account. “Thus, when you travel around the world, you can just use your card. We will adjust the exchange rate via UnionPay, and we only charge a fee of 1.49 percent,” adds Wayne Tsao, CEO at ECARD. Because of the high acceptance rate, every POS or ATM that has a card reader will accept the card across multiple locales in Asia. Also, for many people to receive the travel ‘rewards,’ say with Amex cards, they would have to pay a monthly application fee. With ECARD, users will receive discount rates on a variety of different services in hotels, airplane deals, and so on.ECARD speaks to local merchants so they can provide additional rewards to their customers and not have to worry about fraud. Upon return, the money on the card is still in U.S dollars, and users do not have to do another exchange to get their money back, which is often the case, with travelers having to pay the exchange rate twice, that is, 20 percent. With ECARD, users can pay like a local citizen and when they return, they still have the cash in the account which that they can use through the card, which is accepted in the U.S. ECARD is helping foreign merchants get more business and provide better benefits for the customer; all the while helping stimulate the local economy, increasing the convenience of travel around the world, and handing out additional prestige rewards to incentivize the transactions.
Your Money in Your Pockets, Wherever You Go
Potential users can go onto ECARD’s website and click ‘Buy.’ All that is required is proper documentation such as SSN, Name, Address, Birth Date, to be filled out, i.e. the basic KYC process. For someone without a social security number, they can also submit a government-issued ID and a proof of address and upon approval; potential users can enjoy the card and avail its many advantages. ECARD is also in the process of connecting with different networks like Western Union so that people can load their cash onto these networks, at retail outlets like Walmart.
In the case of one professor from the U.S, the person found herself at a station in China with a problem. The professor had exhausted all the physical cash she had exchanged at the airport and didn’t have any more RMB(Renminbi) with her. So she took her Visa card out hoping to pay for the ticket with it. Unfortunately, the station did not accept Visa, MC, or Amex. They only accept UnionPay cards and so she had to find herself a five-star hotel to convert the money on her Visa to cash at exorbitant rates.
Later, with ECARD she could use her card— only requiring the occasional top up—simplifying the whole experience, and making the journey less complex.
In yet another scenario, a Chinese couple working in the U.S wanted to send money back to their parents in China each month. Buried by work, the family needed a way to send their income home with minimal hassle to their elderly parents and perhaps establish a way that was least expensive while being safe. They switched over to ECARD, affording the parents back home the luxury of convenience while giving the couple overseas, both the time and peace of mind to work—not having to worry about moving the money anymore. The card was in itself easy to use, and the people back home were able to use it directly at POS devices. ECARD wants to provide a boundary-less payment solution, which everyone can have through the use of a simple app.
"Thus when you travel around the world, you can just use your card. We will adjust the exchange rate via UnionPay, and we only charge a fee of 1.49 percent"
The Vision for a Simpler Paradigm
The founder of ECARD was overseas facing a payment predicament, unable to use any other payment models. He used local friends’ credit cards, which needless to say was not sustainable or private. Subsequently, he sought to handle these processes in another way, for people from other western countries to Asia, or vice versa. He set out to create one solution, for everyone, and especially for people who travel a lot that could help them enjoy a way of payment while making it convenient for them. ECARD’svision then is to break the barriers of payment and redefine the way of thinking. Because every time people travel to another country, they need to get used to a new financial system, which is inconvenient and hard to understand. “Our goal is to eventually tie in with multiple merchants and become a global e-banking system, that doesn’t care where you are, where you go, all you need is to have the ECARD to live like a local,” adds Tsao. ECARD will also look for more payment solutions, international ones that they can add to their current solutions to provide all customers, a frictionless transaction experience across all borders. The company is working currently with Western Union and MoneyGram who only have limited agents that they can send their money to. The people who make the money transfer, have to choose one of the branches that are close to their parents or home. With ECARD, they are accepted in all the banks in China, and users can visit any ATM/branch in China and withdraw cash, or use any POS system. ECARD has a very strict compliance policy as well to help monitor all these processes, to make sure that the cards are working correctly while delivering convenience and compliance, and at the same time, putting the power of people’s money back into their own hands.