Airwallex, Australia's latest unicorn has arrived — and shows no signs of slowing down

Supplied: Airwallex founders L-R Xijing Dai, Jack Zhang, Lucy Liu, Max Li

In another exciting boost for the Aussie startup scene, local fintech Airwallex has become Australia’s latest unicorn after completing a $US100 million ($A141 million) capital raise.

The Series-C round takes Airwallex’s valuation to a cool $USD1 billion and into the realm of what is known as “unicorn” status. It follows a massive Series-B round of $US80 million in 2018, which was Australia’s second largest in history.

Airwallex, which was co-founded by five Aussies –– Lucy Liu, Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Ki-Lok Wong and Max Li –– in Melbourne in 2015, is a platform that enables cross-border payments by combining payments and foreign exchange transfers into a single transaction, reducing complexity and cost.

The company has 8 global offices and is now headquartered in Hong Kong. Airwallex said this is just the beginning of their global expansion, with the new capital to be used to focus on the US, Europe and Southeast Asia.

“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,” Airwallex’s chief executive and cofounder Jack Zhang said in a statement.

Leading the Series-C raise was DST Global, the venture capital firm led by Russia-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner, who was caught up in the release of the “Paradise Papers” in 2017 that linked his investments in Facebook and Twitter to the Kremlim.

DST responded to the revelation at the time with a statement to the New York Times, which pointed out that taking investments from sovereign governments was not unusual and that “that Russia-U.S. relations were much better in 2009 and 2011 when these investments were made”.

“DST Global’s investments in Facebook and Twitter were just two of the more than 30 internet companies around the world that DST Global’s funds have invested in — including Airbnb, Spotify,, Zalando and Alibaba,” said DST at the time.

Also participating were Melbourne’s Square Peg Capital, China’s Sequoia Capital and America’s Tencent, which invested in Aiwallex’s last round, along with Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners and Horizons Ventures.

Square Peg Capital Partner and SEEK cofounder Paul Bassat said the company has put together a “highly capable” team.

Let’s watch closely to see what they do next.

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