Melbourne-based fintech startup Airwallex, which is building a new foreign exchange payment network, has raised a $13 million Series A funding round led by Chinese Internet major Tencent. The round also saw the participation from Sequoia Capital China and Mastercard.
The firm raised a $3 million pre-Series A round led by Gobi Partners in July 2016, which was channelled into strengthening its Melbourne and Chinese development teams and accelerating research & development of its international payments platform. The latest investment will finance its international expansion to Southeast Asia and Europe.
Founded by CEO Jack Zhang, Airwallex lets businesses issue and pay invoices in their preferred currency at the mid-market foreign exchange rate. Its order management system uses machine learning to discover an optimal buy-sell trade for currency pairs.
Sequoia Capital China is the Chinese arm of international venture capital major Sequoia Capital Group, which counts global technology ventures such as Airbnb, PayPal and YouTube, among its portfolio firms.
Sequoia China partner, Steven Ji, explains that Airwallex is Sequoia Capital China’s first startup investment in Australia. He said, “Foreign exchange transactions pose a real challenge for businesses that operate across borders, and Airwallex’s solution has seriously impressed us in its ability to close the gap and allow companies to financially access markets that may have previously been out of reach.”
“We like to be the first or one of the first backers of start-ups, and we want to maintain a long relationship with our portfolio companies, providing ongoing support as the companies grow,” he adds.
With Tencent’s ownership of WeChat, this grants the transaction a strategic value and broad reach, given that WeChat has already been developing and refining its payment capabilities.