Startup News & Analysis

How crypocurrency startup TravelbyBit secured a $3.5 million investment from crypto-giant Binance, without really trying

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

TravelbyBit co-founder Caleb Yeoh. Source: Supplied.

Queensland cryptocurrency startup TravelbyBit has secured a $3.5 million ($US2.5 million) investment from Binance, one of the world’s biggest crypto-exchanges, in a strategic partnership to bring cryptocurrency payments to more airports across the world. But co-founder Caleb Yeoh says it was just the fruit of hard work and innovation.

The startup was born out of founder and chief Caleb Yeoh’s frustration, who travels the world to pursue his kitesurfing hobby. TravelbyBit is a payments platform allowing merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin and, soon, the Binance Coin.

Binance is the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, in terms of volume, and this year became the fastest ever company to reach a $1 billion valuation.

It has $10 million users, globally, and — at the time of publishing — in the last 24 hours alone it saw $US815 million ($1.15 billion) in transactions.

This partnership comes just months after TravelbyBit worked with vendors in the Queensland towns of Agnes Water and 1770 to create a crypto-friendly tourism spot.

Now, Yeoh tells StartupSmart there are approximately 300 vendors using the platform, including at Brisbane Airport.

As part of the investment deal, TravelbyBit will work with Binance to bring cryptocurrency to more airports across the world. Yeoh says they’re already in trials with four airports, and with two airlines, which are exploring loyalty point plans and taking bookings in cryptocurrency.

“We’re trying to work with specific airports, so we can channel users there,” he says.

It’s not even a case of cryptocurrency users choosing a specific outlet at an airport, he says. International travellers will even travel to a city or country just because they know they can use crypto.

“We have international travellers come through Brisbane and 1770 just because we made that announcement … just because of that,” Yeoh says.

Having the support of Binance is “fantastic”, and something of an endorsement, Yeoh says.

“It’s a very ethical company,” he says.

“In such a new space, where regulation is still evolving, there’s a lot of uncertainty [and] a lot of scammers,” he adds.

“You have to work with entities who are trusted and who are ethical — they do the right thing even if the regulation isn’t there.”

It was Binance that approached TravelbyBit, and Yeoh believes that’s largely because the startup has a similar vision and appreciation for the emerging industry.

“Binance also looks for ethical companies,” he says.

On top of that, TravelbyBit is backed by the Queensland government, receiving a $100,000 grant in its early days, and working closely with the state on its Brisbane airport, 1770 and Agnes Water projects.

That support was also attractive to the crypto giant, which is always “looking for places where the government is receptive to the technology”, Yeoh says.

He may have scored a partnership with one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, but Yeoh’s advice to other startups is to not focus too much on that.

“If you focus on doing good work you will be noticed,” he says.

A lot of startups are too focused on perfecting their pitch and getting in front of VCs and potential clients.

“We didn’t do too much if that,” he says.

Sometimes, there’s “so much focus on selling, not enough focus on execution or delivering the work,” he adds.

And, while networking can be important, “don’t network until you have something to network about”, Yeoh advises.

“We’re the front line of innovation in blockchain payments,” he says.

“Push the boundaries from a technology perspective and a regulatory perspective … be thought leaders in the space.

“When you’re in that position, leading the innovation, you will be noticed,” he adds.

NOW READ: Don’t get caught up in the crypto bubble, Freelancer’s Matt Barrie warns startups

NOW READ: Why this un-banked Kiwi crypto startup has relocated to Sydney

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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