Melbourne fintech startup secures US$13 million funding from Mastercard, Tencent and Sequoia

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An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code around the shadow of a man holding a laptop computer in an office in Warsaw. Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Airwallex, a Melbourne fintech startup, secured a US$13 million (AU$17 million) funding round lead by Mastercard, Sequoia and Tencent. The amount is intended to accelerate the startup’s global expansion and launch a suite of new product features for consumers on its international payments platform.

Jack Zhang, Airwallex co-founder and chief executive, described attracting strategic investors such as MasterCard a “big achievement.” He is confident that the business is on the right path as it acquires some of the biggest clients in the world, adding that it is “on track to transact billions by the end of the year.”

Zhang said there are over one thousand businesses signed up to Airwallex’s online platform.  The funding, according to Zhang, will specifically be used to expand the startup’s physical presence in several Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan. The company is also looking to expand its presence in London.

“There’s still a lot of improvement we can do to make our product easier to adopt – that’s probably 30% of the money will be used for,” Zhang told Business Insider. He shared that the remaining 70 percent would be used for market expansion into other countries such as Singapore and Europe.

Furthermore, Zhang shared that he had invested significant time in choosing the right partners and people to help attain the startup’s “ambitious” goals. “We have loads of investors who want to invest in us but we basically take the best,” Smart Company quoted him saying.

Sequoia sees the deal as something that represents its Chinese arm’s first investment in an Australian startup. The firm is known for its investment in tech brads like Google, Apple and AirBnB .

Steven Ji of Sequoia said the firm was impressed with Airwallex’s solution, which is capable of closing the gap and allowing companies to financially access markets that may not be within reach before. Airwallex has the privilege of obtaining access to a licence in China to perform international transactions, an ability that other multinationals do not possess.

For FinTech Australia chief executive Danielle Szetho, the funding is further evidence that Australian fintech companies are seen as truly world-class. It also indicates solid links with Asia and China.

The startup is headquartered in Melbourne and has offices in China and London. Last year, it obtained millions in what it called a “pre-series A” round from Gobi Partners, the investment manager of Alibaba.

BBC Newsnight/YouTube

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