Airwallex achieves unicorn status

Aimee Chanthadavong
Senior Reporter

Melbourne-based cross border payments platform Airwallex has just earned unicorn status, following a successful Series C fundraising round of US$100 million.

The fintech, which is now valued at over US$1 billion, will use the investment to support its global expansion in the US, UK, and Southeast Asia. The company already has offices in Hong Kong, San Francisco and London.

Airwallex head of corporate development Dave Stein told that regardless of global expansion plans, Australia will remain the company’s R&D hub.

“We have 60 employees in our Melbourne office, which makes up about 25 per cent of our total employee count, and we’re planning to grow that by 50 to 100 per cent in 2019. It will continue to remain as the engineering hub of the business,” he said.

Stein, who joined the company four months ago from private equity firm Bain Capital, said the appeal to join a company like Airwallex was an opportunity “too hard to pass up.”

The Series C round was led by new investor DST Global and was joined by returning equity backers including Sequoia Capital China, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners, Horizons Ventures and Square Peg Capital. DST global has previously backed companies including internet giants Facebook, Airbnb, and Spotify.

Since the company launched three years ago, Airwallex has raised US$202 million in capital and created a client base of internet giants including, Tencent and Ctrip, and large financial service companies including MasterCard.

According to Mr Stein, Australian governments have been very supportive of startups like Airwallex, with hopes to see the same trend continue come the announcement of the federal budget next week.

“The Victorian government has done a great job by focusing on startups and innovation, and we welcome continued efforts,” he said.

“We’re always supportive of the government assisting tech companies, assisting small businesses. For us, it’s not about policies such as the R&D grant so much. We’re focused on government policies that help the economy, help startups and small businesses.”

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