A peer-to-peer currency exchange platform has launched a buy-back service for foreign currency after research found £2.5 billion in unused travel money is brought to the UK.
WeSwap’s “currency clean-up” allows its users to send notes in foreign currency to the firm in exchange for cash on their cards – and also offers the chance to donate it to Love Support Unite, a charity fighting poverty in Malawi.
It is converted by WeSwap’s partner, the FX online delivery service Currency Online Group, with a charge of between 1-2%.
Currently, coins and large notes such as 500 EUR, or 1000 CHF, are not accepted but WeSwap said it hopes to expand the service to include coins in future.
Chief executive Jared Jesner said: “We’re really excited about our new buyback service. The research confirms that the question of what to do with leftover currency is something no-one has really cracked yet, so a huge amount of money goes to waste every year. Hopefully WeSwap Buyback will help make the process easier and fairer for everyone.”
The research found that £725 million is spent at airports, and a further £819 million is “sitting in kitchen drawers and piggy banks”.
It also estimates that an average of £90 in excess currency brought back from each trip and found that 27% – or 12 million – Brits save spare currency for their next trip, 19% (9 million) spend it at duty free, 10% buy gifts or souvenirs, 9% change it back and 6% keep the currency as a souvenir, give it to friends or leave it in a hotel room.
WeSwap’s research also found that 60% of British travellers take more cash than they need on holiday and 65% say they’re currently hoarding excess currency from previous trips. It found 31% store excess currency in piggybanks, coin jars and boxes under the bed, 19% use kitchen and sock drawers and 28% keep leftover holiday cash in travel wallets.