Airwallex to expand its footprint into Southeast Asia starting with Malaysia.

Airwallex to expand its footprint into Southeast Asia starting with Malaysia. Suorce: Airwallex

Australia’s Airwallex expands to SEA starting with Malaysia

  • The Australian fintech platform has secured a money services business license from Bank Negara Malaysia.
  • Airwallex can now offer integrated international payment solutions for Malaysian businesses of all sizes.
  • The expansion took place shortly after Airwallex launched in the US, representing its expansion into North America.

Australian fintech Airwallex that recently launched its services in the United States — the first North American country where it maintains a presence — continues its international growth momentum. This time, the company has secured a money services business (MSB) license issued by Malaysia’s Central Bank.

Its entry into Malaysia marks another milestone for Airwallex as the company sets its sights on growing its presence in Southeast Asia, with teams in Singapore and Malaysia to support ASEAN businesses. Currently, the fintech unicorn backed by Tencent Holdings and Sequoia Capital China, has licenses and is operational in Australia, Hong Kong, the UK & EU, and the US.

Airwallex continuous expansion reflects the fintech’s company’s global growth strategy aimed at achieving its vision to become the global financial infrastructure for businesses to operate anywhere, anytime. Currently, the company offers a business account that includes cards, international collection & transfer, and other value-add solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, and an API for larger enterprise businesses that require embedded payments and financial services. 

The six-year-old company is now one of the fastest-growing financial technology companies with a global team of over 900 employees. Earlier this year, Airwallex announced an additional Series D capital raise of US$100 million which increased its valuation to US$2.6 billion.

What does Airwallex’s presence in Asia look like?

For its latest venture in this region, businesses in Malaysia from early next year can enjoy fast, transparent, and cost-effective international payments in multiple currencies. Through the Airwallex platform, they will have the ability to collect funds from customers across the globe in different currencies, convert and payout into preferred currencies.

CEO and Co-founder Jack Zhang said “For many businesses, operating across borders is expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome. This pain point is exactly why we started Airwallex. From day one, we set out with a purpose to empower businesses of all sizes to grow without borders.” 

“Malaysia-based businesses have been looking to tap into Southeast markets to remain competitive, requiring a trusted payment partner for their regional and global expansion. With this new license, Airwallex aims to replicate the success that it has achieved from servicing leading companies in other regions with businesses in Malaysia.

“Our solutions will help both local and global businesses in Malaysia focus on their international operations and expansion, without having to navigate the nuances of establishing their own cross-border financial infrastructure.” Zhang continued.

Other recent progress within the Asian region includes Airwallex teaming up with Visa in June this year to offer a “borderless” virtual card for businesses in Hong Kong as competition for business-to-business payments intensifies. The card allows customers in Hong Kong to generate single-use and multi-use cards for online payments to vendors and other merchants in more than 140 currencies where Visa is accepted. It is not a traditional credit card but instead linked to a business’s Airwallex account.

Cross border payments disruption in Southeast Asia

According to a report by ACI Worldwide and fintech market research and consulting firm Kapronasia, Southeast Asia is becoming a global focal point for cross-border real-time payments growth.  Nearly every country in the region has a domestic real-time payment infrastructure in place.

The increased adoption of the ISO 20022 standard is enabling streamlined communication between payment systems and additional overlay services like DuitNow in Malaysia, PayNow in Singapore, and PromptPay in Thailand.

ACI Worldwide MD for Asia, Leslie Choo said, “Southeast Asian countries are making significant strides in payments modernization, with nearly every major country in the region having robust domestic real-time payments infrastructure in place.

Despite the lack of uniform regulations and disparate economic priorities across the region, it’s clear that market forces — driven by the needs of businesses and consumers — will propel Southeast Asia towards the realization of a multi-country real-time network.”