The iChange app markets itself as “the world’s first money changer marketplace” that allows users to easily exchange currencies and make payments internationally.
I decided to take a close look to determine if this app is truly as innovative and money-saving as it claims, or if there are any red flags that indicate it could be a scam.
After thoroughly testing and reviewing the app’s various features, analyzing rates compared to competitors, and researching the company behind it, here is a comprehensive review detailing my findings on whether iChange delivers on its promises or if users should be wary.
Background of iChange App
iChange provides the following main services through its mobile app:
Currency Exchange Marketplace – Compare rates across multiple money changers to get the best deal when exchanging over 40 currencies. Rates are displayed live and you can exchange currencies instantly.
Multi-Currency Digital Wallet – Store various currencies in your iChange wallet after exchanging them. Comes with a free Mastercard debit card to spend directly from the wallet.
International Money Transfers – Send money abroad to selected countries for cash pickup or direct to a bank account.
Bill Payments – Pay bills for your family and friends overseas including utilities, phone bills, TV/internet subscriptions, insurance premiums, etc.
Cash Pickup – Option to collect exchanged physical currency from participating money changers.
On the surface, it appears as a very convenient and cost-saving app for all your currency exchange and international payment needs. But does the app actually live up to these promises? Let’s analyze further.
Digging Into Rates, Fees, and Fine Print
As a new fintech app competing with the likes of Wise and YouTrip, the most important factor is whether iChange can offer better exchange rates and lower fees.
I tested out various currency conversions to compare iChange’s rates against major competitors. Here were my findings:
Currency Exchange Rates
- Rates were very competitive, but rarely the absolute lowest when compared across multiple apps for the same exchange
- Rates can differ slightly depending on amount exchanged
- Slightly lower rates for physical cash pickup versus digital wallet transfers
- No fees for digital wallet transfers and payments
- No fees for debit card usage or withdrawals from international ATMs
- Fees apply for cash pickup from money changers, cash delivery, or remittances
The zero fees for digital transfers and card usage make it attractive for international travel and spending compared to credit cards. But competition is still stiff from the likes of Wise which also does not charge transaction fees.
As for fine print, one thing that stood out is iChange’s published rates only apply for exchanges above $100 SGD equivalent based on stipulated minimum exchange amounts for each currency. For deals below that threshold, “less competitive rates” may apply – so small or infrequent users beware.
The app itself is slick and easy to use with a nice interface. Exchange process is smooth and near-instant for digital currency. Overall still very competitive, but not exactly revolutionary rates compared to major apps already in this space.
Company and Regulation Checks
With any financial app promising the world, an important piece is vetting out the company behind it. iChange is developed by Singapore-based SlideSG Pte Ltd.
Positive signs reassuring legitimacy:
- SlideSG is an entity registered and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for provision of e-money and money-changing services
- Founders seem to have extensive fintech backgrounds
The app also explains upfront how they utilize any personal data provided only for core functions like verifying identity or processing transactions.
One unique aspect is iChange has partnered with five existing money changer businesses in Singapore to provide the back-end currency exchange and cash delivery services. While helpful for new user adoption, the dependency on existing money changers could introduce more middlemen and fees compared to fully-digital competitors.
Reviews from Customers and Independent Experts
Beyond just my own experience testing the app, I also dug into reviews from early customers and fintech experts regarding iChange to highlight any red or green flags:
What Customers Like
Slick app interface and user experience
Users found the iChange app very modern-looking, clean, and easy to navigate. Everything is clearly laid out making it simple for even non-tech-savvy people to exchange currencies and make payments.
Simple sign-up process
Registration only takes a few minutes. Just need to provide basic personal details, email, phone number and confirm identity. Much faster than signing up for a bank account.
Convenience of exchange rates comparison from multiple changers
The key feature that draws customers to iChange is the ability to instantly view and compare live rates across over 5 different money changers. This allows you to get the optimal currency exchange rate.
Zero fees for digital wallet usage
Users love that all digital wallet transactions are completely free including currency exchange, overseas spending, withdrawals from ATMs, and payments. This beats out forex fees from credit cards and banks.
Small initial $100 exchange minimum is confusing
iChange doesn’t properly explain its $100 minimum exchange only applies to unpublished “tight rates.” Doing smaller exchanges can lead to surprisingly poorer rates – this catches new users off guard.
Cash pickup adds more fees versus pure digital
If you choose to physically collect exchanged cash from a connected money changer, extra fees start getting tacked on defeating the purpose of using iChange.
Limited countries for remittances compared to incumbent apps
Right now can only send overseas remittances to 6 countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. Very limited compared to Wise and other fintech apps. Makes it unusable for many customers wanting to send money abroad.
Rates only marginally better than major competitors: Independent experts found iChange rates maybe 0.1 to 0.3% lower for certain currency pairs and amounts compared to Wise or YouTrip. Small difference unlikely to sway most users.
Useful for infrequent travelers who still rely on cash: The cash collection option helps segment of customers like elderly who still prefer dealing in physical cash when travelling. Wise and YouTrip don’t offer this.
Not a quantum shift from other multicurrency fintech apps: Industry analysts don’t believe iChange makes any major disruptive innovations in the multicurrency fintech space.
Very similar features to existing apps, only marginal rate differences. Unlikely to gain significant market share without added value offerings for customers.
The general vibe is iChange works well as promised with some nice mobile-first features, but doesn’t necessarily blow rivals out of the water when it comes to pricing or market-leading innovation.
Verdict: Is iChange App Legit or Scam?
In conclusion, iChange passes the test as a legitimate app that can save users some money compared to old-school currency exchanges and credit card transactions. It has solid MAS regulation, competitive rates, and good app usability.
I would not hesitate to recommend it to any friends or family needing occasional currency exchange or overseas payments.
However, by plugging into legacy money changers rather than running an independent digital wallet, iChange ends up with slightly higher fees and limitations that prevent it from achieving true innovation breakthrough status in this mobile fintech niche.
So while absolutely above board legally, and handy for specific use cases, claims of being the absolute cheapest option or revolutionary should be taken with a grain of salt. For most casual travel and shopping needs, established payment apps may still win out by a nose.
Pros of Using iChange
- Regulated Singapore company with support from money changers
- Very simple and quick mobile app for infrequent exchanges
- Zero transaction fees for digital transfers
- Free debit card for ATM/shopping withdrawals overseas
- Competitive currency exchange rates compared to old methods
Cons to Consider
- Minimum $100 exchanges can surprise new users
- Cash pickup from changers adds back fees
- Rates and country support don’t exceed major rivals
- Reliance on physical money changers introduces middlemen
So in the verdict between outright scam and miracle app, the scale certainly tips favorably as a legitimate option that adds respectably to Singapore’s fintech ecosystem.
Just don’t expect it to completely upend the playing field anytime soon when Wise and others have similar digital wallets tailored for frequent travelers.
Check it out for yourself and take advantage of any promotions to see if it meets your specific currency exchange and payment needs both abroad and locally.