The fintech startup Airwallex has secured $US3 million (almost $A4 million) funding from Gobi Partners, the Hong Kong-based investment manager of Alibaba’s venture capital fund, and a group of angel investors.
Gravity VC as well as angel investors Huashan Capital One and Billy Tam, the CEO of Easylink Payments, the company behind Chinese payment powerhouse PAYECO, also invested.
The Melbourne-based Airwallex platform, currently in beta trial, enables businesses to issue and pay invoices in their preferred currency at the mid-market foreign exchange rate.
This avoids higher bank charges and minimises currency fluctuation risks.
Michael Zhu, managing partner at Gobi, says cross-border consumption is booming in Asia.
“The traditional forex channels remain slow, expensive and inefficient,” he says. “There is a real need for innovation in the sector and Airwallex has created the perfect solution.”
Airwallex co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang says there’s been little fintech disruption in forex because it is such a complex and highly regulated area.
And Zhang, a former ANZ and NAB foreign exchange solution designer, says the big banks haven’t invested a lot into improving efficiencies because the forex transaction process is highly manual, time consuming and expensive.
“Previously it was only big banks and financial institutions that had access to foreign exchange deals at the interbank rate,” he says.
“But we’ve built a direct connection that gives any business or individual access to this exclusive mid-market rate with an algorithmic risk management engine in real-time.”