Home Brexit Fintech Airwallex achieves unicorn status and launches office in the UK despite Brexit

Fintech Airwallex achieves unicorn status and launches office in the UK despite Brexit

by Peter Smyth Tech Journalist
28th Mar 19 7:35 am

Airwallex, an international payments fintech that specialises in low-cost, seamless cross-border payments, has today confirmed its unicorn status following successful series C funding of $100m USD, leading to a valuation at more than $1bn USD.

  • Series C is led by DST Global, a leading investment firm, which has backed internet giants Facebook, Airbnb and Spotify and fintech leaders Nubank and Robinhood
  • The new capital will be used to expand Airwallex’s suite of international collection and payment products and to support global expansion into the US, UK / Europe and Southeast Asia.
  • Airwallex is committed to empower not only marketplaces and merchants, but also small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow their businesses

Top-tier investor DST Global led the Series C fundraising round, which closed at $100m USD. Alongside new investor DST Global, existing participants from Airwallex’s previous rounds returned for the Series C fundraising, including Sequoia Capital China, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners, Horizons Ventures and Square Peg Capital. The new funding round brings the total amount of external funds raised to over $200m USD. Just three years after it was founded, Airwallex is now valued at over $1bn USD, confirming its position as a newly minted fintech unicorn.

The investment will support Airwallex’s plans to accelerate product development and grow its business operations internationally, as well as fuel its aggressive customer acquisition strategy in Australia, the UK and the US, with new offices opened in Europe and North America.

Airwallex has picked London as the location of its European headquarters, and will kickstart its UK operations immediately. Led by James Butland, VP – European Growth at Airwallex, the fintech has built a local team across Sales, Compliance, Marketing and Partnerships to build the European client base.

Founded in Melbourne (Australia) in 2015, Airwallex has grown from an emerging start-up to a global challenger in the cross-border payment space. Airwallex offers an end-to-end solution for businesses to make payments and move money programmatically on a global scale, supporting a client base of internet titans including JD.com, Tencent and Ctrip, and large financial service companies including MasterCard.

In the UK, after being granted an EMI license by the FCA in November 2018, Airwallex will target SMEs and online marketplaces that are looking towards international expansion.

The latest government figures reveal that in 2017, 232,000 UK businesses, representing nearly one-in-ten UK SMEs (9.8%), were exporting overseas. Airwallex will aim to support these SMEs and their payment needs by allowing them to instantly create Global Accounts with local bank details, access interbank exchange rates and send money through local and international clearing networks to more than 130 countries.

Commenting on the latest series funding, James Butland said, “The quality of investors in Airwallex is testament to the solutions we have developed; the likes of DST Global have invested in tech success stories such as Facebook, Alibaba and Twitter, and it matches our ambition. We want to enable businesses in every market we operate in to scale globally, and participate more easily in global markets, by providing a platform that delivers efficient payment processing through some of the world’s busiest trading corridors.

“Our platforms, which have experienced huge growth in Australia and Asia, will help free businesses from many of the traditional barriers that have made international transactions and growth so difficult. Our journey has only just begun in the UK and London; but we know the market is strong – we can already see huge potential for our services.”

Tom Stafford, Managing Partner of DST Global said, “Cross-border ecommerce continues to grow strongly, driven both by consumer purchasing as well as business-to-business transactions. This growing industry needs a technology-focused payments network that is reliable, cost-effective and provides data transparency. Airwallex has built such a network and we are excited to partner with Jack and the team as they continue to grow their business.”

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