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unicorns

The Journey of Four Chinese Students Who Founded Australia's Newest Tech Unicorn

Airwallex aspires to become the operating system of global banking, offering customers a truly global financial platform that serves their growing business needs
The Journey of Four Chinese Students Who Founded Australia's Newest Tech Unicorn
Image credit: Twitter: Airwallex
Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific
3 min read

Australia is one of the most dynamic economies and boasts of a vibrant fintech marketplace. The investment in the region’s finance sector has surged as well. According to findings from the EY Census report, Australia's fintech ecosystem has continued to mature and grow in 2018. Now, the country has its fastest growing fintech unicorn Airwallex, a cross-border payments start-up that builds a global financial infrastructure to scale the digital economy.

The company’s entry into the unicorn club is followed by a successful Series C fundraising round of $100 million. The funding, led by venture capital firm DST Global, brings Airwallex’s total capital raised to over $200 million.

Tom Stafford, managing partner of DST Global, says in a statement, “The growing ecommerce 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”.

The Growth Journey

It was started in Melbourne in 2015 by four Chinese founders, Xijing Dai, Jack Zhang, Lucy Liu and Max Li, after they struggled to buy coffee cups and labels from Hong Kong, China and other countries using traditional payment methods (like banks or Western Union) for their cafe Tukk & Co in Melbourne's Docklands.

Today, the tech startup has grown 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 big names including JD.com, Tencent and Ctrip, and large financial service companies including MasterCard.

What’s more, customers can 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.

The new capital will be used to support global expansion into the US, UK/Europe and Southeast Asia. Alongside global expansion, the funds will also be used to continue product development, with an emphasis on delivering further value to marketplaces, online sellers and SMEs. The startup aspires to become the operating system of global banking, offering customers a truly global financial platform that serves their growing business needs.

Knocking Down Barriers in Finance

Airwallexchief executive officer and co-founder Jack started Airwallex because he knew there was a better way to make global payments.

“Airwallex is proud to free businesses from many of the traditional barriers that have made international transactions so difficult. 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,” he says.

Prior to founding Airwallex, Jack was a foreign exchange solution designer at National Australia Bank and The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, where he was responsible for their respective digital forex trading platforms. A Melbourne University graduate, he has over a decade of experience in foreign exchange trading and investment banking across London, Melbourne and Hong Kong.

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