Funding accelerates Airwallex's global expansion plans

  • By Christine St Anne

Airwallex will continue to accelerate its global growth plans eyeing markets such as Europe, the US and Middle East as well as create an “ecosystem” that goes beyond partnerships in financial services.

Last week, the fintech raised US$160 million in a Series D fundraising round - its largest to date.

The new deal included support from new investors, including ANZi Ventures and Salesforce Ventures, and several existing core investors, including DST Global, Tencent, Sequoia Capital China, Hillhouse Capital and Horizons Venture also participated bringing Airwallex's total equity raise since it was founded in 2015 to over US$360 million.

The funding confirms Airwallex’s unicorn status, which was achieved in March last when it raised US100 million in a Series C fundraising round.

The additional will help the business accelerate worldwide growth.

The global expansion is in part due to the client needs, according to Airwallex co-funder Lucy Liu but also to strategically position the business as a global player and help built out its product capabilities to meet the cross-border needs of businesses.

Most recent RFi Group research reveals that now 59 per cent of businesses indicate that they make international payments.

“Over the past few years, we have really been investing in our own settlement and payment network as well as the infrastructure layer that has been connecting into the banks,” she said.

Airwallex also has secured the buy-in of Visa which ahs further cemented its integrated platform.

“This year we want to further expand our product offerings” Liu said.

Up until recently, we have had mainly partnerships with financial services businesses. Now we have plans to build out our own ecosystem

For example, Airwallex currently offers bank accounts but Liu sees scope to also introduce cards and digital wallets.

“It's more about u transforming ourselves, evolving from just being a business to business payment provider to providing a full service for our business customers.”

Airwallex will still keep its focus on business payments regardless of the market.

“But obviously for each market there will be differences,” Lius said.

Here she said that Airwallex’s strong presence in Asia will appeal to businesses in the US and European markets

“A lot of businesses are looking for access to Asia, and that's something their existing providers can’t provide them.”

This is because those markets are still dominated by the banks when it comes to cross-border business payments.

For Liu the biggest opportunities in the global markets will still remain around e-commerce particularly in light of COVID-19.

Here, she is not only seeing opportunities in digital payments but also prospects in the gig economy particularly with the growing number of freelancers and the move towards outsourced labor.

“Overall, the main focus at the moment is still around the marketplace and e-commerce,” she said.

Forging new partnerships will also be key.

“Up until recently, we have had mainly partnerships with financial services businesses. Now we have plans to build out our own ecosystem.

Its tie-up with Xero is an example of this approach and Airwallex is even eyeing partnerships to provide services around working capital for its e-commerce clients.

“In short we are trying to offer a more end-to-end and holistic solution to our clients. From our perspective, they should be focusing on their own business.

“We want to be able to have a very good ecosystem in place so that customers don't need to try to juggle 10 or 20 different suppliers all at once.

“They can just connect to us and find the relevant solutions through one platform.