Airwallex raises $276 million, bringing it to a $5.5 billion valuation


Airwallex co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang.

Aussie fintech unicorn Airwallex has secured another US$200 million ($276.5 million) in Series E funding as it ramps up its global expansion, and as cash continues to roll into Australian startups.

The latest round values the business at US$4 billion ($5.5 billion)

That’s up from US$2.6 billion ($3.4 billion) just six months ago, when the scale-up announced a $100 million add-on to its Series D.

The round was led by US-based investment management company Lone Pine Capital, which has also backed the likes of Amazon, Netflix, PayPal and Square.

New investors G Squared and Vetamer Capital also joined the round, alongside existing backers including Salesforce Ventures, 1835i Ventures, DST Global and Sequoia Capital China.

Founded out of a Melbourne coffee shop in 2015, Airwallex is a platform designed to make cross-border transactions more transparent and cost-effective for businesses, including SMEs.

Within three-and-a-half years, it had become the fastest ever Australian startup to hit a $1 billion valuation.

And things have only gone up from there.

For the first half of 2021, Airwallex saw year-on-year revenue growth of almost 150%.

Over the past 12 months, its global client portfolio has increased by some 300%, and it has processed more than US$20 billion in transactions.

The business has also almost doubled its headcount in 2021 so far, and now employs approximately 1,000 people across 20 locations around the world.

In July this year, Airwallex’s founders unveiled their own $200 million VC fund, Capital 49.

“Significant validation”

This latest funding will be used to build on momentum to fuel further global growth, following the startup’s expansion into the US market in August.

The team will also ramp up product development across its five engineering hubs, with a focus on increasing the offerings available to both small and larger business clients, and boost the sales and commercial teams.

Securing investment from high-profile US investors represents “a significant validation of our business and growing growth strategy,” Airwallex co-founder and chief Jack Zhang said in a statement.

“From the start, our vision has been to build a global financial operating system that will allow
modern businesses to operate without borders,” he added.

“This additional capital enables us to scale our presence in North America, UK, Europe and other new markets including the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia, and become a dominant leader in global payments.”

Lone Pine Capital managing director David Craver said Airwallex has a “clear competitive advantage” in the digital payments space.

“Its unique Asia-Pacific roots, coupled with its innovative infrastructure, products and services, speak volumes about the business’ global growth opportunities and its impressive expansion in the competitive payment providers space,” he said.

A $1 billion windfall for Aussie tech

While this is a huge raise, it’s just the latest in a string of big-ticket announcements over the past week or so.

Last week, Canva secured $270 million in fresh funding, bringing its valuation to a massive $55 billion.

We also saw Scalapay announce its $210 million Series A, while Mable and SiteMinder secures $100 million apiece, and Immutable bagged $82 million.

All in, last week we covered more than $816 million in funding rounds for Aussie startups.

Airwallex’s $276.5 million means we’ve now reported more than $1 billion in funding raised within eight days.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Right Click Capital partner Benjamin Chong suggested this influx of cash represents a maturing of the startup scene.

Businesses that were fledgling success stories a few years ago are now growing up. That’s good news for the whole ecosystem, as successful founders are starting to reinvest that wealth in new ventures, he added — and that’s exactly what the Airwallex founders have done.

“If you’ve been a founder and you know how hard it’s been, and you have had this level of success, doesn’t it make sense to support founders who are on the journey you were on?” Chong said.


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