Australian Fintech Raises Funding from Sequoia China, Tencent, Mastercard

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--An Australian startup offering payment-settlement services has secured funding for its international expansion from investors including the Chinese affiliate of Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley's biggest venture-capital firms.

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Melbourne-based Airwallex Pty. Ltd. said it raised US$13 million in a "series A" fund-raising round, with Sequoia Capital China, Chinese internet firm Tencent Holdings Ltd. (0700.HK) and payments company Mastercard Inc. (MA) joining in.

It follows an earlier round of funding last year led by Shanghai-based venture-capital firm Gobi Partners that collected US$3 million.

Airwallex, which is rolling out a new foreign-exchange payment network, said the money would help propel its release and an international expansion.

Founded in December 2015, the company said its order-management system uses mathematical algorithms and machine learning to determine how a payment should be executed, taking into account time, priority and available routes in its calculation to increase speed. Able to support thousands of transactions a second, Airwallex promises a cost-effective alternative to existing payment networks.

The funding marks the first startup investment in Australia by Sequoia Capital China, which makes its investing decisions independently from Sequoia Capital, said Steven Ji, a partner at the Chinese investor.

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Airwallex offer to integrate companies such as shopping websites in another country into its network to support their payments, allowing customers in Australia the ability to secure goods for the price they are advertised at the time of searching, despite currency fluctuations.

The company was launched by Jack Zhang, who previously worked as a foreign-exchange solutions designer at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU) and National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB.AU), former China International Capital Corp. investment consultant Lucy Liu and entrepreneur Xinjing Dai.

While working at National Australia Bank, Mr. Zhang and partners founded a cafe across from the bank, which was where the idea for Airwallex was sparked after they found the foreign-exchange fees and rates very high for importing coffee cups and food packaging, the company said.

Armed with a number of financial services licences and partnerships across several countries, the company aims to make international payments as cheap and simple as domestic payments, Mr. Zhang said.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 30, 2017 23:15 ET (03:15 GMT)