Airwallex partners with Qantas to offer points for SMEs

Airwallex founders

Airwallex co-founders Xijing Dai, Jack Zhang, Lucy Liu and Max Li. Source: supplied.

Aussie unicorn Airwallex is partnering with Qantas, allowing SMEs conducting global payments to receive bonus points for their efforts.

The new service, Qantas Business Money, will be available to more than 350,000 SMEs who are Qantas Business Rewards members.

Through Airwallex, SMEs using Qantas Business Money will be able to access competitive foreign exchange rates, which Qantas says can be up to 70% less than rates offered by the big banks.

Businesses can also set up local business accounts in 11 different countries, and use virtual debit cards to pay in local currencies.

The launch follows a successful trial of the service with 170 businesses.

SMEs will earn up to 25,000 bonus points after signing up and completing a transaction, plus one additional point for every $10 transacted.

Qantas Business Rewards already offers points to businesses for day-to-day purchases, and offers financial services such as credit cards and business finance.

Points can be redeemed on travel, on Qantas Wine or in the Rewards Store, or as rewards for employees.

Keeping Qantas innovative

Founded out of a Melbourne coffee shop in 2015, Airwallex was designed to make cross-border payments simpler and more transparent for businesses.

The gap in the market was a sizeable one. Within three-and-a-half years, Airwallex became the fastest ever Aussie startup to hit a $1 billion valuation.

As of November 2021, the business was worth US$5.5 billion ($7.6 billion), having raised more than US$800 million ($1.1 billion) in venture capital funding to date.

“The stunning growth of Airwallex shows there is huge demand for this from small to medium size businesses,” Qantas Loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said in a statement.

“Australia’s love of earning Qantas Points has seen us build strong partnerships with some of the country’s biggest brands, as well as some of the most innovative,” she added

“These connections are key to keeping our members engaged in the program and ultimately drive value for our business.”

SMEs embracing global growth

Speaking to SmartCompany, Craig Rees, Airwallex’s global head of platform, who oversaw the deal, says he’s seeing more SMEs looking to grow their businesses by entering new markets.

“We’re already witnessing SMEs choosing to base themselves in Australia whilst their customers sit around the world,” he says.

“These opportunities were only available to the multinationals 10 years ago.”

Equally, while the pandemic has shown it’s possible to grow a business in this way without travelling overseas, as borders reopen Rees expects to see a resurgence in business travel, making Qantas’ points offering all the more compelling.

For Airwallex, this is just the first of a string of “strategic partnerships” set to be rolled out in 2022, Rees hints.

We can “absolutely” expect to see the Aussie unicorn teaming up with more big — and iconic — brands.

“We are seeing significant traction globally where iconic brands are looking to expand out of their home markets or utilise our financial infrastructure to launch new propositions,” he says.

“[They] see Airwallex as the partner of choice.”

Airwallex co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang called the partnership “testament to the strength of our competitive global financial infrastructure”.

While the Airwallex platform “empowers” small businesses to operate on a global scale and removes barriers, it can also play a role in allowing large organisations to provide those benefits to their own customers.

“We’re very excited to work together with one of the most iconic brands in Australia to continue to remove the constraints that Australian companies face in the current global financial system,” Zhang added.

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