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Airwallex raises $80M for its international payment service for businesses

Airwallex, a three-year-old fintech startup focused on international payments for SMEs and businesses, is putting itself on the map after it raised an $80 million Series B round. Based out of Melbourne, but with six offices in Asia and other parts of the world, Airwallex’s new funding round is the second-largest financing deal for an Australian startup in history. The round was led by existing investors Tencent, the $500 billion Chinese internet giant, and Sequoia China. Other participants included China’s Hillhouse, Horizons Ventures — the fund from Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing — Indonesia-based Central Capital Ventura (BCA) and Australia’s Square Peg, a firm from Paul Bassat, who took recruitment firm Seek to IPO and is one of Australia’s highest-profile founders. The financing takes Airwallex to $102 million raised. Tencent led a $13 million Series A in May 2017, while Square Peg added $6 million more via a Series A+ in December. Mastercard is also a backer; the finance giant uses Airwallex to handle its “Send” product, while Tencent uses the service to power an overseas remittance service for its WeChat app. Airwallex handles cross-border transactions for companies that do business in multiple countries using international currencies. So it’s not unlike a TransferWise-style service for SMEs that lack the capital to develop a sophisticated (and expensive) international banking system of their own. The service uses wholesale FX rates to route overseas payments back to a client’s domestic bank and is capable of processing “thousands of transactions per second,” according to the company. A use case example might include helping a China-based seller return money earned in the U.S. or Europe via Amazon or other e-commerce services, or route sales revenue back directly from their own website. Airwallex CEO Jack Zhang (far right) onstage at TechCrunch Shenzhen in 2017 China is a key market for Airwallex — which was started by four Australian-Chinese founders — as well as the wider Asian region, and in particular Australia, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. With this new capital, Airwallex co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang said the company will increase its focus on Hong Kong and Southeast…

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