Airwallex raises $100M in Series C funding led by DST Global

Airwallex, a Hong Kong-based cross-border payments firm for marketplaces, online sellers and SMEs, has raised $100 million in Series C funds led by DST Global, a move that values the company at more than $1 billion, according to a company release.

Existing investors, including Sequoia Capital China, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners, Horizons Ventures and Square Peg Capital also participated in the round. Airwallex has raised more than $200 million to date.

The firm, founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 2015, plans to use the funding for product development and expansion in major international markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Airwallex plans to triple the size of its U.S. operations, where it currently operates out of a San Francisco-based office, according to a spokesperson.

“We started Airwallex because we knew there was a better way to make global payments,” Jack Zhang, founder and CEO of the company, said in the announcement. “Airwallex is proud to free businesses from many of the traditional barriers that have made international transactions so difficult.”

The company said it works with a client base of leading internet firms, including, Tencent and Ctrip, as well as financial services companies such as Mastercard. The platform allows businesses to create international financial accounts in local currencies and send and receive funds through local clearinghouses in more than 130 different countries.

“The growing e-commerce industry needs a technology-focused payments network that is reliable, cost effective and provides data transparency,” Tom Stafford, managing partner of DST Global, said in the announcement.

Topics: Mobile Payments, Money Transfer / P2P, Region: Americas, Region: APAC, Region: EMEA, Technology Providers

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How Mastercard And The IACC Worked To Curb iOffer’s Counterfeit Problem

In the U.S. and worldwide, counterfeiting is a large, lucrative business worth between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion annually, according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC). Fake fashion items and accessories alone represent a $500 billion global business per year, but counterfeiting is much bigger than fake purses and shoes.

Everything from makeup to clothes, prescription drugs to household cleaning products and electronics to baby formula has a counterfeit variation that is doubtlessly being sold online right now. In addition, the instances of it are going up every year, not down, John Verdeschi, group head and senior vice president of customer performance integrity at Mastercard Worldwide told Karen Webster.

“There is no doubt, as eCommerce grows and all of these products are more accessible than ever before, consumers are ever-more likely to encounter counterfeiters across these channels,” he said. “For us, [that’s why] it was important to take a stand here, and make sure consumers can have a good experience while they are shopping online.”

It’s also why being able to announce a win in the ongoing trillion dollar-plus struggle with global counterfeiting, as Mastercard and the IACC are doing this week, is particularly satisfying.

iOffer, a popular online consumer marketplace, has a reputation for being the kind of place where a consumer can buy anything. Unfortunately, according to Bob Barchiesi, president of the IACC, since “anything” often includes counterfeit goods, iOffer has been a “tremendous point of frustration for brands and the [intellectual property (IP)] community.” However, with assistance from Mastercard to briefly shut down payments processing on the site, iOffer found it was capable of finding — and removing — the offending items, and is back up and running again.

“We hope iOffer will take this opportunity to protect [its] customers by building systems and processes to mitigate against fakes on [its] site,” Barchiesi said.

It’s a big win in an area where all wins are hard fought, Verdeschi told Webster — and an excellent example of how good actors can, and should, fight off the fraudulent players wrecking the experience for everyone else.

Creating A Chain Of Pressure

Mastercard has worked with the IACC for a number of years, Verdeschi said, which puts the firm in contact with the 250 or so IP rights holders that make up the organization. The sheer number of brands in the group alone, he noted, attests to how widespread the problem has been.

The partnership allows the brands via the IACC to reach out directly to Mastercard when they notice their IP rights being violated online. (In the case of iOffer, it wasn’t just a case of one brand complaining, but of multiple member complaints over time.) From there, upon investigating, Mastercard reaches out to the merchant acquiring banks and notifies them that counterfeit goods are being sold. They are asked to confirm or deny that, and to please cease and desist their illegal activity.

What happens at that point can vary, Verdeschi said, depending on the case and what kind of answers they get from the acquirers. In this instance with iOffer, it meant that processing on the site was largely shut down, until iOffer was able to demonstrate the problem had been remedied.

The goal in such cases, he noted, is consumer protection. While there are some consumers in the world who are happy to buy a faux Fendi or make-believe Birkin bag (if it looks convincing enough), the reality is that most customers don’t want to buy a fake anything. This is doubly true when one considers items like cosmetic products or pharmaceuticals, where getting something that is not as advertised might actually mean getting hurt or sick, or even dying.

“This is a complicated issue, and the average person who is looking at these goods on a screen will find it difficult to determine if they are real or legal, or not,” Verdeschi said.

Stemming A Rising Tide

Given the volume of cases Mastercard takes on each year, he said, this week’s good news is already old news because the firm is on to the next set of complaints in an ever-expanding field. While there is no clear winner among categories for counterfeit, and there is “a lot to be had here,” fake pharmaceuticals have been a growing industry as of late.

“The dynamics are different between areas. When it is luxury goods counterfeiting, the IP rights holders themselves are more likely to bring it to our attention. Things like pharmaceuticals or other more dangerous situations, we tend to hear about from law enforcement and regulators,” he explained.

The underlying process is largely the same: Mastercard pursues the counterfeiters, and leverages its connection to the acquiring bank to shut down the flow of funds for counterfeit goods. It’s a better outcome, ultimately, for the entire ecosystem — the IP rights holders aren’t being robbed, customers aren’t getting fake and possibly unsafe items, and issuing banks aren’t fielding phone calls and managing chargebacks for the angrily ripped off.

There is more that can be done. That’s why, Verdeschi said, Mastercard has also partnered with places like the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) for consumers who want to buy pharmaceuticals online, and use a reference guide for reputable, safe online pharmacies. In addition, consumers do need to be good stewards of their own digital destiny, and accept that if a deal looks too good to be true, it very well might be.

However, he noted, the fraudsters are out there, which means that with one set of problems at iOffer down, it’s on to the next one.

“We have many things we are working on. It never ends,” he said.


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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out our February 2019 B2B API Tracker Report 

The Taste Of New Mexico In A Subscription Box

Entrepreneurs are sometimes inspired to create companies based on a place where they have strong ties: Eric Smith was born as well as raised in New Mexico and co-founded Nuevo Food Box, which offers a subscription box of food highlighting the flavors of the state. His wife, Jordan, was recruited for University of New Mexico basketball for the Lady Lobos. They met in the state, but they had to move away for work (and life).

They then noticed it was hard to find a piece of their culinary lives in other places. Smith said the food they loved — and the food culture of the state — didn’t exist in other places. “[It’s] very hard to find some of the tastes and some of the flavors that we loved in New Mexico in other states,” especially states outside the Southwest, Eric told PYMNTS in an interview. The couple, in turn, decided to tackle the challenge.

To help consumers access these flavors, the couple created a subscription box that highlights four to five items from around the state and sends new items every month to people throughout the United States. The box’s selections range from products such as a salsa to a chile sauce. “We’ve … grown the idea into just giving people a little bit of authentic and traditional,” Eric said. He also noted the service features some unique items “that maybe even native New Mexicans have never tried before.”

The Subscription Offering

Smith said the company has worked with around 40 vendors based in New Mexico and is looking for those flavors one can’t find in other places. “We tried to find vendors that weren’t in grocery stores anywhere else,” Smith said. The aim is to make sure that the selections meet the standard of giving people a “little taste of New Mexico.” The company features items such as salsa, green chile sauce as well as green chile popcorn and red chile jam.

The company offers month-to-month plans and three-month prepay plans that let consumers cancel, pause or auto-renew. However, shoppers get a bit of a discount if they prepay. As it stands, the  PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index found that 95 percent of the top performers in 4Q 2018 offered plan changes. The same share of top performers offered plan options. For Nuevo Food Box, those options extend beyond shoppers buying subscriptions for themselves.

Consumers can alternatively purchase subscriptions as gifts for others: The company offers a one-month and a three-month option for those customers. Smith said most gift subscriptions are for three months, which “gives people a chance to get that variety.” And for regular subscriptions, Smith said the month-to-month offering is a popular option. The company runs its back end on Cratejoy and payments through Stripe.

To spread the word about the service, Jordan has been using social media by finding people who have an interest in foods from New Mexico. Jordan said searching recipe groups on Facebook has been “huge” and she has posted recipes. Jordan noted that they have also let her post links to the website and people are starting to get interested. In addition, she said, the company has recently received attention from local media.

The Subscription Market

When people come back home to visit family, Eric said they take extra suitcases and fill them up with New Mexican food to take away. “There’s a kind of a tradition of going into Albuquerque and trying to load up as much as you can,” Eric said. (With his service, they can presumably choose to skip the suitcases on their next trips.) One of the videos on the company’s Facebook page, for instance, highlights this trend.

Eric said it’s “probably well overdue” that someone started shipping out subscriptions of food from New Mexico, with consumers asking for some way to get that kind of cuisine for a long time. He also noted that consumers understand the business model, which has been a big win for the company. Beyond Nuevo Food Box, food startups have been tapping into the subscription model for everything from pet food to fresh produce.

Entrepreneurs behind subscription startups are also coming together to connect: Eric said an online community through the subscription school gave the company a starting point to meet with subscription company owners regularly locally in Austin. Entrepreneurs with strong regional ties, then, aren’t only starting subscription services because of their roots: They come together to form strong bonds over their shared interest in the business model, too.


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out our February 2019 B2B API Tracker Report