Airwallex value jumps $2b in two months after raising $137m

Fast-growing Australian payments “unicorn” Airwallex has tapped a raft of global investors – including ANZ Bank’s venture capital fund – to close a $US100 million ($137 million) funding round, with plans to kick of an Asian acquisition drive.

The fresh capital raising comes less than two months after a previous $275 million injection saw Airwallex’s valuation surge past the $5 billion mark, with the latest round adding another couple of billion dollars to $7.6 billion ($US5.5 billion.)

Airwallex co-founder and chief executive Jack Zhang told The Australian Financial Review its September raise had been significantly oversubscribed, and it had decided to capitalise on the demand after its target to hit annualised revenue of $US100 million by the end of the year was achieved in the third quarter.

“This strong third quarter performance fuelled further confidence and interest from investors and the additional capital helps accelerate our global expansion and growth,” Mr Zhang said.

“With the new funds, we will be more actively looking at M&A opportunities that help accelerate our product development, our expansion into new markets such as the Middle East and Latin America, and that give us greater access to the tech talent pool.”

Airwallex was founded in 2015 and started out providing businesses with a cheaper, faster way to make cross-border payments. Its services have since expanded to include bank accounts, borderless cards (provided in partnership with Visa), online payments acceptance and a suite of application programming interfaces.

The latest funding is being counted as an extension to the recent Series E funding, which is led by secretive US hedge fund Lone Pine Capital, which previously made a killing on Afterpay. Other existing investors including ANZ’s 1835i Ventures and Sequoia Capital China poured in more money.

Mr Zhang said the third quarter had seen it record a 165 per cent year-on-year revenue increase and hire an additional 200 staff members. However, like others in the tech industry he said Airwallex was also battling against a growing local skills shortage, which has left it with 50 roles still to fill in Australia.

“There is undoubtedly a tight job market, especially in tech. The pandemic hasn’t made it easier by limiting international mobility,” Mr Zhang said.

“This is why we’ve invested heavily in our talent recruitment team across our offices this year to ensure that we are attracting the best talent. By doing that we’ve recruited more than 200 people across the company in the last quarter.

“One of the benefits of opening an engineering hub in Sydney this year is it enables us to tap into new talent pools … The global talent shortage will continue to be a challenge, as we need the best people to build best-in-class products.”

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