Elevator Pitch: Airwallex

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Jack Zhang, co-founder and CEO of cross-border payment platform Airwallex.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Airwallex is a cross-border payment platform that uses machine learning to provide faster, cheaper and better international payments, at scale. Airwallex have created a digital compliance and payment layer that sits on top of traditional banking infrastructure.

We partner with local financial institutions in each jurisdiction we operate in and analyse every transaction that comes through the platform to determine the fastest, most cost-effective route for delivering payments to their recipients.

Our technology takes location, time, and available payment routes into consideration as part of the calculation process so as to minimise risk and cost while increasing speed of delivery. This allows us to process thousands of transactions per second as cost-effectively as possible, and deliver payments to over 100 countries globally.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Just a few months ago we closed our Series A funding round, with Tencent (the 4th largest internet company in the world), Sequoia Capital China, MasterCard and Gobi Partners. As a globally ambitious fintech startup, building a scalable payments infrastructure on a global level requires the best talent and strong financial backing to succeed. Support from our investors has enabled us to propel the release of Airwallex’s suite of APIs and expand into new markets, such as Singapore and the UK.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Licensing and strict regulations in every jurisdiction have been some of our biggest challenges. We’ve invested heavily in this area, recruiting a strong in-house legal and compliance team to ensure we are compliant with all relevant regulations and secure the licenses we need to grow across APAC, the UK and the US.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Traditionally, cross-border payments are slow, expensive and complex, and existing payment platforms fail to provide effective solutions for individuals and businesses. Airwallex is modernising these outdated foreign exchange methods with sophisticated software that speeds up delivery, reduces cost, and simplifies as well as secures the process for everyone involved.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

I love WeChat because it has mass functionality, and it’s the one messaging app that I can consistently use everywhere in the world.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

It’s not business advice exactly, although it does apply: Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.


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