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Melbourne startup Airwallex is now a fintech unicorn


Airwallex Founding Team Image: Supplied

The payments heavyweight joins Ant Financial, Stripe and Klarna with a valuation over US$1 billion.

Fintech Airwallex has today announced that it has joined the ranks of the venerable fintech unicorns, a name given to companies valued at over US$1 billion. Airwallex reached unicorn status after a successful Series C fundraising round of US$100 million.

While joining the ranks of global unicorns is tough, it's seemingly even tougher in Australia. We can only count a few Australian-founded unicorns, including Atlassian and Canva, but none have been in the fintech space. Globally, the list of unicorns is much longer and includes companies such as Airbnb, Ant Financial and Klarna.

Australia's newest unicorn Airwallex was founded in Melbourne in 2015 with its platform offering international payment solutions for businesses. Rather than just facilitating international payments, Airwallex's platform is an end-to-end solution that encompasses the whole cross-border payment value chain. This includes allowing businesses to instantly create international bank accounts, access interbank exchange rates and send money to over 130 countries. Today, the payments company's clients include other fintech unicorns such as Stripe and Robinhood as well as Tencent and Mastercard.

Airwallex CEO and co-founder Jack Zhang said the company was started because they 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," Zhang said. "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."

The company's latest Series C raise, led by top-tier investor DST Global, takes the total capital raised to over US$200 million. The new funds will be used to fuel Airwallex's global expansion to the US, UK, Europe and Southeast Asia. It will also use the funds to continue developing its product with a focus on providing further value to marketplaces, online sellers and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"The growing ecommerce industry needs a technology-focused payments network that is reliable, cost-effective and provides data transparency," said Tom Stafford, managing partner of DST Global. "Airwallex has built such a network and we are excited to partner with Jack and the team as they continue to grow their business".

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