Sujith Narayanan, Ex-Country Head – Google Pay/ Entrepreneur
“I have been a business traveller for the better part of 15 years whilst working in the financial services and technology industry. A significant part of my work-life was spent in business travel; in business travel; red-eye flights, long queues at airports, immigration checks, transit hotels, grabbing a quick bite between work meetings, and long and hectic weeks.
Among the myriad things I needed to keep in mind for a hassle-free travel experience, I perpetually needed to buy forex – either from one of the numerous forex dealers or from airport counters – all the while paying an exorbitant forex mark-up of 4-5 per cent. Often, I ended up using my domestic credit cards for international transactions as well, blissfully ignoring the mark-up charges on every transaction. It was only when I managed to find the time and patience to read through the details of a few credit card monthly statements that I finally realised that I was paying through my nose!
I wished there existed a hassle-free, economical solution that worked across the globe. Much later, when forex cards were first launched, I was still unconvinced as most forex cards offered single currency prepaid options, or at best a combination of few currencies. Interesting, but really sub-optimal. The Indian financial services industry has now progressed by leaps and bounds in terms of digital options for ease and convenience. However, the lack of easy and convenient option for payments while travelling abroad seemed like an aberration.
Frequent international travels can be tedious as there is a long list of items that one needs to be mindful of. Worrying about carrying foreign currency in card, or forex charge mark-ups on the credit card is the last thing that a business traveller prefers to do.
I recently have come across a forex card with ‘zero forex mark-up’, where users need not pay any premium for international currency and transaction fees – unlike a regular forex card. Options liket the NiYO Global Travel Card are ideal for frequent travellers.
As our country moves steadily towards a major economic powerhouse, Indian businesses are looking to expand globally. Senior Indian business executives, consultants, entrepreneurs and bankers are continuously travelling to-and-fro from important business hubs like the US, Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. According to a report by KPMG, India is the world’s 10th largest business travel market and third in Asia-Pacific after China and Japan.
KPMG also predicts that we, as a nation, are likely to clock the fastest growth in this segment over the next three to five years with an annualised growth of 12 per cent. By 2030, India is projected to be among the top five countries on business travel spending, which again underlines the importance of new-age forex cards that do not levy any currency exchange premium or international transaction fees.