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Travel Crisis Led to Currency Card Launch

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LONDON, November 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

When student Ben Wakeham was mugged for the third time during his round the world trip he didn't get depressed but instead vowed to launch his own travel money card.

     (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121119/577562 )

Travel mad Ben found himself penniless in South Africa - and couldn't believe how difficult it was to obtain funds from the UK.

Spotting a gap in the market he returned home to launch his own currency card - The VIDA FX MasterCard®Prepaid Currency Card - and now plans to take on the foreign exchange market using the MasterCard network.

His solution offers travellers one of the most complete and hassle-free services on the market, with users able to access money from any of MasterCard's 33 million acceptance locations worldwide, making it suitable for trips of any length.

There are three versions of the card available - Euro, US Dollar and World Traveller. The Euro and US Dollar cards allow users to instantly upload funds and lock in their exchange rate, enabling maximum transparency and making budgeting easier.

The World Traveller, which is aimed at users who require more than one currency during their trip, allows users to deposit in pounds and withdraw in any local currency they require depending on their location.

The card is free to purchase (£3.99 delivery) and because the site trades on live currency market rates, one of the benefits of a VIDA FX card is that it can give users better rates than they would receive when using a high street credit or debit card.

It's also a re-useable product, with cardholders being able to top up their card for free instantly online using a debit card.

As Ben, 24, has learned, safety when travelling is paramount so the card can be blocked simply by sending a text message, the card isn't attached to any specific bank account, and VIDA offer direct telephone support, live help online and have a fraud team to monitor all transactions.

He has also teamed up with charity Trees for Life in a deal which sees a new tree planted every time a card is purchased.

Ben, from London, says he had always wanted to go it alone in business and unlike his friends decided against applying for graduate jobs whilst at university. Instead, he took a gap year and worked a string of menial jobs - including telesales and bar work - to help pay for the trip.

The business and management graduate says he hoped he would find a moment of inspiration whilst taking in some of the world's most spectacular sights.

He said: "Towards the end of university most of my friends were spending a lot of time looking for jobs but a graduate role just didn't appeal to me. I'd always wanted to run my own business and throughout university had jotted down many ideas, trying to create the perfect product.

"After experiencing several problems with my travel money I decided there was a gap in the market for the perfect currency card which took all the best elements from the existing products yet communicated fun, adventure and enjoyment.

"I wanted to design a card which people would enjoy signing up for, adding to their holiday experience rather than detracting from it."

Upon returning from his trip Ben set to work researching the industry and one year later believes he has found the perfect combination of features to make his card stand out from several established, multinational competitors.

He said: "Within an hour of getting home I was telling my parents about my idea and I spent the next year reading up on the industry and my competitors. The more I read the more I saw a gap in the market. 

"I knew that with such large competitors my branding was going to be key and started designing something which would be loveable, fun and exciting rather than a chore. I thought the name 'VIDA' was perfect as it's Latin for life, which is exactly why people go on holiday, to have new experiences and improve their lives.

"I wanted to make my company about the fun of going abroad, whether for a weekend city break, a two-week family holiday or a one year sabbatical.

"VIDA FX is about the experience rather than just simply the money and our aim is to take care of the boring stuff so users can concentrate on having a great trip.

"Strong branding was essential and I've taken inspiration from the likes of Innocent and Apple - both masters at creating beautiful, customer focused products. I think the picture on the card really summarises what we're all about, helping people enjoy the amazing experiences you only get through travelling."

Ben launched VIDA FX, funded by the help of his family, and says he hopes it's just the start of his travel industry revolution.

"I like to think of myself as an optimist but when it comes to business I'm a realist. I am very analytical and all the trends point to the fact that the travel money market is stagnant and ripe for disrupting. This is just the beginning, VIDA is coming to the market from a very different angle and we are going to be innovating very hard with the product as well as the brand."

He said: "Bringing the product to market has been the most rewarding experience and I can't wait to see how it's received by the public. It's been designed to maximise consumer benefit.

"My ultimate ambition is for VIDA FX to become the most used travel card in the world and one of the most loved brands too."

* Please see here for a full list of all fees associated with the card.

MasterCard is a registered trademark of MasterCard International Incorporated. The Card is issued by Newcastle Building Society ("NBS") pursuant to licence by MasterCard International Inc.  NBS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority as an issuer of e-money (registration no. 156058)

More info: http://www.vidafx.co.uk/contactus

SOURCE VIDA FX



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