Headquartered in Australia, Airwallex is the latest technology company to enter the unicorn club of one billion dollars. The company announced today that it has closed a $ 100 million Series C round that values its business above $ 1 billion.
Started in Melbourne in 2015 by four Chinese founders, Airwallex provides a service that allows companies to manage cross-border revenue and financing in their business. In much the same way as an alternative to the consumer-focused TransferWise service.
Your customers can, for example, set up bank accounts abroad if they have paying customers located abroad. When they want to move that revenue back to their headquarters, they simply do so through the Airwallex system, which uses inter-bank exchanges to trade currencies at an average market rate. That’s something that can save your customers up to 90 percent in their exchange rates, and greatly simplifies the challenge of doing business overseas.
This new round of financing is led by DST Global, the high profile investors who supported people like Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Xiaomi and more. With the participation of returning investors and include Sequoia China, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners , Horizons Ventures and the capital of Australia SquarePeg. Airwallex has raised more than $ 200 million. The previous investment was an increase of $ 80 million about nine months ago.
Become unicorn within three years of its launch
The most impressive thing is that the company has become a unicorn within three years of its launch. It’s an impressive feat, the company has come a long way since we wrote about its $ 3 million seed round. Airwallex joins Atlassiano and Canva as the third technological unicorn of Australia.
CEO Jack Zhang told TechCrunch that the company is being public with its valuation for the first time. Because it provides important validation that will help build a reputation and develop additional services in the financial services space.
“We talked to a number of global funds that we found interesting, but we chose daylight savings because our top priority is international expansion and the fintech will help us open doors and look for bigger opportunities,” Zhang said of the leading investor of the round.
In fact, the vision of Airwallex has grown since that round of seeds. Today, the fintech has eight offices worldwide, more than 260 employees, and helped send billions of US dollars worldwide through its payment streams. This year he expects the number to grow to tens of billions. While he has also broadened his focus both in terms of clients and services. Initially, a large part of its flows involved China, but Zhang said the spread is fairly distributed.
They wants to help all companies to grow and expand globally
“Traditionally, we served many Internet companies, but now we are saying that size does not matter,” Zhang said. “We want to go after small businesses and help all companies grow and expand globally.”
On the product side, he added that, “The vision has evolved and we are now building a fundamental global financial infrastructure.”
What does that mean exactly? Well, Zhang said that Airwallex wants to be more than a cross-border partner for companies. It already offers services such as virtual bank accounts in 50 countries, connects with partners to offer other financial services. For example, Stripe, and its planned future products include the issuance of credit cards to allow companies to manage money abroad with a Greater granular control.
In fact, Airwallex already has an internal team nicknamed Alpha that helps SMEs and other companies grow abroad. It’s very similar to Amazon’s AWS business, while Zhang said that Airwallex has made undisclosed investments in two companies where it sees an aligned global vision.
“Alpha identifies companies at an early stage and helps them grow,” Zhang said. “Whether they work with us or not, we do not care, we help them connect them with investors and networks.”
The idea of the business was for Zhang, who spent some time at the ANZ and NAB banks in Australia. After he was frustrated by the challenges of importing products abroad for a coffee business in which he invested with friends.
“We imported from abroad and we paid Western Union a lot of money,” he recalls. “Everything was very slow.”
The fintech has solved that problem for any potential owner or investor of international minded coffee shops. But Zhang is convinced that the future of his business is to be an ecosystem for global banking and financial services. Precisely what it could mean in the future is not clear. But considering companies that work closely with commercial customers, Airwallex is in an ideal position to offer loans and financing, either directly or through partners, and really get involved in growing their customers and businesses.
By starting to focus on Asia, and China in particular, Zhang is driving global growth. And that really means that the United States and UU they are growing beyond the Airwallex offices in London and San Francisco. The company is looking to start acquisitions, and Zhang admits that his team is actively looking for exciting new payment companies in the US and the US.
Fintech Airwallex is also looking at banking licenses in selected markets, which could mean that it will re-raise additional capital by the end of this year or the startup of 2020.
The fintech is not saying too much about its own finances at this time. Airwallex makes your money take an undisclosed cut of the transactions made by your customers. Zhang calls it small, but said that revenues multiplied by five last year while seeing a double-digit monthly growth. The economy is running in a solid economic unit, he says.
The support of its investors solved many of it’s problems
For now, the support of its investors is allowing Airwallex to grow its business without having to focus on making money. It has been proven that this is complicated for some high-tech companies, such as TransferWise and the challenging banks in Europe, but Zhang is confident that when that changes, your company will have few problems to be sustainable.
“We believe there are great opportunities for companies like Airbnb and Amazon. While SMEs need a true one-stop shop for their businesses to go from local to global. We know that we have so many sources of income that we can obtain in the future. But for now we are focused on acquiring customers and helping our clients to scale, “he said.