Australian Fintech Payments Startup Airwallex Raises A$17 Million from Mastercard, Tencent, Sequoia China

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Australian cross-border payments FinTech startup Airwallex has closed a A$17 million (approx. US$13 million) Series A to fuel its international expansion.

In one of the biggest Series A rounds in Aussie history, Melbourne-based FinTech startup Airwallex has raised USD $13 million in a funding round that saw participation from payments giant Mastercard, Chinese internet giant Tencent and Beijing-based venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China.

Airwallex enables small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to make cross-border transactions at mid-market interbank exchange rates that are effectively cheaper than traditional wire transfers. The platform uses big data analytics, quantitative models and a ‘sophisticated foreign exchange and payment engine’ to avoid volatility and inflated margins in foreign exchange markets. Similar to UK-based international payments startup TransferWise, with one notable difference – Airwallex targets businesses while TransferWise caters to everyday consumers.

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Airwallex claims to support thousands of transactions per second to deliver payments to more than 100 countries at cost-effective prices.

“Our mission is to eradicate the burden of international payments so that businesses can transact across borders with ease,” stated Airwallex CEO and co-founder Jack Zhang.

He added:

Armed with a growing number of financial services licenses and partnerships across numerous jurisdictions, we aim to make international payments as cheap and simple as domestic payments.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Airwallex also has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong alongside a new London office and a planned office in Singapore. The money raised will be used to push its international expansion in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.

New investor Tencent is, as Airwallex quickly points out, the fourth largest internet company in the world after Amazon, Google and Facebook. Tencent is also the operator and developer behind WeChat, the dominant messaging app in China with nearly 800 million daily users. WeChat Pay, a payment service that is integrated with the messaging app, is one of the world’s largest mobile payment services alongside rival Alipay. It’s investment and partnership with Airwallex will reportedly see the Aussie startup help Tencent lower the costs incurred with WeChat Pay’s international payments.

While few details are known about Mastercard’s reasons for investing in Airwalllex, the funding round marks Sequoia China’s first investment in Australia.

Steven Ji, a partner at the Beijing-based VC firm stated:

Foreign exchange transactions pose a real challenge for businesses that operate across borders, and Airwallex’s solution has seriously impressed us in its ability to close the gap and allow companies to financially access markets that may have previously been out of reach.

Featured image  of Melbourne from Shutterstock.

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