A Message from our CEO and Co-founder

Jack Zhang7 minutes
A Message from our CEO and Co-founder

Over the past few months, I spent significant time speaking with Mario Gabriele of The Generalist, who wrote an in-depth piece about Airwallex’s early years and my path as a founder. I have never been comfortable sharing my personal story, especially with people I don’t know well, but I was pleased I had the courage to reveal so deeply, because I wanted everyone to understand our collective drive to build a global financial and payments platform to empower businesses around the world. Just as importantly, I wanted Mario to understand the cultural underpinnings that have been fundamental for Airwallex since day one – which I recognize are tied to my own story and drive. 

Reflecting on Airwallex’s story thus far has re-inspired and energized me – not just to meet our ambitious goals for 2024, but also for the infinite possibilities we have in the many years ahead. To build; to innovate; to disrupt – all in the spirit of creating borderless economic opportunity for businesses. Challenges and uncertainty will persist in the global economy. Businesses need Airwallex to persevere and succeed no matter what the macro environment brings.

Our Journey to Support Borderless Businesses

From our founding to today, the Airwallex vision remains to be the global economic infrastructure empowering businesses to grow beyond borders. We’ve come a long way since we set that nascent vision, from simply moving money to becoming a global financial and payments platform for modern businesses worldwide. We achieved cash flow positivity in December 2023, our annual run-rate revenue is approaching $400 million, and our annual volume is close to $80 billion. The past year has been especially meaningful as we became more focused on the key areas that will drive our mission forward.

In 2023, we strengthened our financial infrastructure by expanding into more new markets, including Israel, Canada, and LatAm. We secured our payments license in China, becoming one of only two international players in the market. We launched payments in the US, improved payment success rates, and launched cross-border issuing to reach a total of 45 markets. We automated our client onboarding in Australia, UK, Europe, China, and the US, while leveraging generative AI to improve the process. Last year, we also further expanded our product capabilities by delivering new products and features, like Yield, Bill Pay, and Batch Transfers. We built upon our software offerings for spend management and expenses, including integrations with Xero, Quickbooks, and Netsuite expenses and bills. We did all of this while creating even more value for customers of all sizes – like Navan, Bird, and Rippling – enabling them to onboard customers and create bank accounts in 60+ markets, make local payouts to 110+ markets, orchestrating end-to-end funds flow, and much more. Our intricately engineered, end-to-end platform processed over 50 million transactions in 2023 and is now saving customers $300 million annually.

Looking Ahead to the Next Chapter

As global businesses seek simpler, more unified, scalable solutions, the possibilities are infinite for what we can achieve in the coming years, including serving our customers with fully vertically integrated financial infrastructure and software. 

Given this, we see growing opportunities to lead with software, building long-term, deeply embedded, sustainable customer relationships as their singular, highest-performing financial operations platform. To get there, in the coming years we’ll focus on three key strategic areas: cementing product market fit for our software offering, continued expansion of our market-leading infrastructure, and building best-in-class people & operations, with AI investments to strengthen everything we do.

SaaS: Build the complete Financial Operating System our customers need to thrive in today’s globally-interconnected economy In 2024, we’ll focus on establishing product market fit for our software product within mid-market and enterprise customers by building out our end-to-end global spend management suite (e.g. purchase request and purchase orders, vendor management, and spend analytics). We plan to launch subscription-based pricing across our core markets and deliver a delightful, reliable, and more efficient customer onboarding and operating experience for multi-entity customers. 

Infrastructure 2.0: Deliver the best financial infrastructure for modern businesses operating globally We will continue to expand our market-leading financial infrastructure, with increased coverage in new operating regions, including Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and the Middle East. We’ll enable our customers to earn a return on their balances by launching Yield across all core markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, Europe, and the US, as well as credit cards in Australia, the United States and Hong Kong, and One-Click Checkout for payments globally. We’ll also strengthen the overall performance and resilience of our financial infrastructure. For example, we will increase the speed of our payouts, with instant and same-day payouts reaching 75% and 90% of total volume respectively, while reducing our payout failure rate. On the payments side, we continue to improve our payment success rate, while reducing fraud and chargeback for our customers. 

On the embedded finance platform, we will expand coverage across core markets for both business and consumer propositions. In addition, we’ll improve our developer experience for faster, more efficient integration, and an improved end-to-end experience across customer support and operations with our updated platform console.

Above all, as a trusted money management partner to more than 100,000 customers around the world, we must continue to be stringent with our risk and compliance. This is also essential to making our infrastructure operate effectively. Airwallex has more than 60 licenses and registrations, spanning Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North America. We have also begun to grow our presence in Latin America, with licensing applications in process for both Mexico and Brazil. We will continuously reevaluate and uplift our procedures alongside the business’s growth.

People & Operations: Cultivate a vibrant, winning culture Within the walls of our now 20+ locations globally – most recently in New York, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv – we have more than 1,600 of the brightest, most innovative people in tech, representing 20+ nationalities. Last year we introduced new ways of working together – our Operating Principles – to guide how we interact with each other, our customers and partners, and how we make decisions in every aspect of the business. To achieve these ambitious goals, we have to be as uncompromising about culture as everything else and our Operating Principles help us do that. We want to give our people the chance to do their most ambitious work, while growing and building their career.

Develop an AI foundation across all of our strategic focus areas  Internally and externally, we’ll leverage more generative AI to make working with Airwallex easier for customers and to help our people do their best work. We’ve already launched a new tool using large language models to speed up Airwallex’s Know Your Customer (KYC) assessment, helping customers onboard more efficiently. And we have a number of internal generative AI tools for improving our own global operations and processes. In the next year, we plan to develop automated support systems to improve customer support capabilities and a data copilot to empower data-driven decision-making for both customers and employees. 

Powering Borderless Businesses

I told Mario many stories from my past – like working in a lemon factory, washing dishes, and mixing drinks.  These experiences have shaped my values, and how Airwallex operates as a company: never settle; work hard; be optimistic. The journey of entrepreneurship – from launching a coffee shop to a global payments and financial platform – are all part of my desire to be part of something that will change people’s lives, whether they are enjoying a good cup of coffee, or operating a successful global business.

2024 will be a big year for Airwallex. We aren’t just any unicorn start-up. We’re on track to become a thriving company making a meaningful impact on the global economy by changing the way businesses manage all aspects of their payments and financial operations. With the ambitious plans for this year and beyond, we are not just investing to keep growing our company, but to build durability; and to empower businesses of all sizes in every corner of the world to operate and grow.

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Jack Zhang
Co-founder and CEO of Airwallex

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