Payments company Airwallex lands unicorn status

  • Payments fintech company Airwallex confirmed last week that it raised $100 million in series C funding led by DST Global, according to a company press release. Existing investors from previous rounds include Sequoia Capital China, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners, Horizons Ventures and Square Peg Capital.
  • The funding values the business above $1 billion, thereby making it a tech unicorn.
  • Airwallex plans to use the funds to back product development and support international expansion of its business to the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia, per the release.

Dive Insight:

Airwallex, founded in Australia in 2015, joins a rush of companies that have reached unicorn status in recent weeks including Rent the RunwayCasper and Glossier

The payments corporation allows customers to create an account with a local bank to access interbank exchange services for customers and send money through networks in 130 countries. “Players like Airwallex abstract away the complexity of dozens of different underlying payment systems (which are usually country-specific) to make it easy/transparent, like FedEx’ing a payment,” explained MoffettNathanson Senior Research Analyst Lisa Ellis in an email to Retail Dive. “Cross-border B2B payments is a high-growth area of digital payments.”

While Airwallex works with companies to send and receive money via auto-routing technology, it is one of a growing trend of services that work on a local level to conduct international payments. For example, Western Union announced Amazon PayCode operations in 10 countries this past February — a service that allows customers to pay for Amazon purchases based on their local currency. Additionally, Walgreens recently announced that it now accepts Alipay in 3,000 stores so the mobile platform’s users can save on foreign-exchange fees when traveling in the U.S. 

In a statement, Airwallex CEO and co-founder Jack Zhang said, “We started Airwallex because we knew there was a better way to make global payments.” He continued, “Our mission is to build a worldwide, technology-driven financial infrastructure that will help our customers — including marketplaces, online sellers and SMEs — grow their businesses globally.”