Airwallex Fetches $2.6 Billion Valuation in Funding Round

Airwallex Cayman Ltd. raised $100 million in a new funding round to accelerate its expansion in global payments, as the Australian startup expects triple-digit revenue growth for the next three years.

The company raised new funds from investors led by U.S.-based Greenoaks at a valuation of $2.6 billion, Airwallex said in a statement. Australia-based Grok Ventures, Skip Capital and ANZi Ventures also took part. The startup has raised nearly $500 million in total.

“We’re still in the very early days of international growth,” Chief Executive Officer Jack Zhang said in an interview. Revenue growth will hit nearly 200% in 2021 and the company has no urgent need to go public, he added.

Airwallex Fetches $2.6 Billion Valuation in Funding Round

Airwallex -- which helps businesses set up bank accounts, process multi-currency payments, and conduct expense management -- will use the funds to expand in Asia, the U.K. and especially the U.S., a new market for the company, said Zhang. Co-founded by Zhang and Lucy Liu in a Melbourne coffee shop in 2015, it’s looking to hire 500 more people, adding to its 600-plus headcount across 12 global offices.

Of the new roles, half will be in Asia, while the rest will be in Europe and the U.S., Zhang added.

Airwallex’s customers include Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, Inc. and online learning platform 51Talk. It primarily works with business clients, including big e-commerce platforms that need to provide payment services for a large number of merchants. Its technology enables China-based retailers selling to places like the U.K. and Australia to receive payments in yuan within hours. Its other two co-founders include Dai Xijing and Max Li.

Visa, Xero

Last year, Airwallex broadened its services, including multi-currency debit cards with Visa Inc. to enable businesses to pay suppliers and offer expense cards to employees. It also offered a bank feed integration with accounting platform Xero Ltd. to help businesses with audits.

The firm is expected to have processed $20 billion worth of transactions last year, based on past monthly projections. Of that, 70% is estimated to have come from serving e-commerce companies and 20% for digital-related operations like Tencent Music, Zhang said.

Airwallex saw triple-digit revenue growth in the e-commerce and digital vertical last year. Business from cross-border tuition transfers and travel companies plummeted due to Covid-19 lockdowns, the CEO said. The company wants to achieve $100 million in revenue this year, and generate $1 billion by 2025, based on projections from previous financials.

Zhang and his team spent more than a year securing 33 money transfer licenses in the U.S., including in key states such as California, Florida and Texas. It plans to start offering services in the country in a few weeks, and is seeking to increase its staff there to 50 from about 15 right now, said Zhang.

The firm plans to increase headcount in Europe to more than 80 from 30 now. It’s planning to launch in Singapore and Malaysia pending regulatory approval, and in Japan later this year.

“From an operation and expense point of view, things are becoming more distributed” across the world, said Zhang. “Covid accelerated that, so businesses need a global financial cloud service to help them.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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