Australian-Hong Kong fintech startup, Airwallex, has landed a $3 million USD Pre-A funding round led by Gobi Partners, a Chinese investment fund manager that oversees Alibaba’s Hong Kong innovation fund, among other projects.
The round was also joined by Gravity VC, Huashan Capital One and Billy Tam, who is the CEO of Chinese payment company PAYECO, Airwallex announced on Tuesday.
The peer-to-peer startup, which is currently still in beta mode, says they are able to mitigate bank margins and currency inflation risks by allowing businesses to issue and invoices in their preferred currency at a mid-market rate using the company’s algorithmic engine.
“Previously it was only big banks and financial institutions that had access to foreign exchange deals at the interbank rate,” said Airwallex co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang, who previously worked at Australian Banks ANZ and NAB in foreign exchange services.
“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.”
According to Mr. Zhang, the service is designed to disrupt the payment providers including Paypal and Western Union. Honk Kong has fast become a hub for fintech startups, however the market is much more regulated and saturated on the Chinese mainland, where companies like PayPal have largely exited.
A spokesperson for Airwallex confirmed to Technode that the investment is not part of the Gobi-managed Alibaba fund based in Hong Kong. Gobi Partners was founded in Shanghai, but has since expanded heavily into Southeast Asia with bases in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Image: Jack Zhang, CEO and co-founder of AirWallex