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​Australian payments start-up Airwallex grabs US$13M

​Australian payments start-up Airwallex grabs US$13M

Attracts investment from Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, Sequoia Capital China, and Mastercard

Airwallex founders Max Li (product architect), Jacob Dai (CTO), Jack Zhang (CEO), Lucy Liu (COO) and Ki-lok Wong (principal architect).

Airwallex founders Max Li (product architect), Jacob Dai (CTO), Jack Zhang (CEO), Lucy Liu (COO) and Ki-lok Wong (principal architect).

Melbourne fintech start-up Airwallex has raised US$13 million to fund its international expansion.

The Series A funding round – claimed to be one of the largest ever by Australian start-up – has attracted funds from Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, Sequoia Capital China, and Mastercard. Airwallex was the first Australian start-up to join the Mastercard Start Path accelerator program in September 2016.

Tencent is the fourth largest internet company in the world behind Amazon, Google and Facebook and has interests in cross-border payments as one of the largest mobile payment providers in the world through social media app, WeChat.

Airwallex is Sequoia Capital China’s first start-up investment in Australia. Sequoia partner, Steven Ji, said 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.”

Airwallex said the capital raising will propel the release of its suite of APIs, allowing businesses to process international payments at scale. The solution support thousands of transactions per second and provides a more cost-effective alternative to existing payment networks.

The company claims its sophisticated FX and payment engine, and a transparent pricing model avoids inflation and minimises risk.

Airwallex co-founder and CEO, Jack Zhang, said the start-up’s mission is to eradicate the burden of international payments so that businesses can transact across borders with ease.

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

Airwallex founder, Jack Zhang: The start-up’s mission is to eradicate the burden of international payments.
Airwallex founder, Jack Zhang: The start-up’s mission is to eradicate the burden of international payments.

FinTech Australia CEO, Danielle Szetho, said the announcement is further evidence that local fintech companies are regarded as world class by top global investors, and of our industry's increasingly strong links with Asia and China.

“It also continues the trend highlighted in the recent KPMG Pulse of FinTech report that showed investments into Australian fintech companies more than tripled in 2016, outpacing the growth of investment in other regions and well in line with other leading Asia-Pacific fintech hubs," said Szetho.

This Airwallex funding round follows a pre-Series A round of US$3 million early last year, which was led by Gobi Partners.

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