If you haven't heard of Airwallex, it was really only a matter of time.
The Australian-based, Melbourne-founded, Fintech cross-border payments startup is making very big waves internationally as it continues its rapid global expansion into Asia Pacific corridors and across Europe, disrupting the traditional payments sector.
Hundreds of secondary school girls will be lucky enough to hear and learn all about Airwallex’s meteoric rise and take home some serious fintech startup business smarts from Airwallex Co-Founder Lucy Liu at the upcoming girledworld Summit at the University of Melbourne’s Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship.
This will be a big moment for the girls in the room, but also for the FinTech industry, which needs more powerful female role models like Liu to break the tech glass ceiling and show girls what they can be. (Fintech has traditionally been dominated by men and struggled with maintaining diversity and attracting female talent).
The world-first Summit will be opened by the Honorable Kelly O’Dwyer MP on behalf of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and is supported by the Victorian Government, LaunchVic, StartUpVic and features a huge weekend of workshops and interactive speaker sessions from outstanding female business founders and tech leaders from Airbnb, Atlassian, IBM, Girl Geek Academy, The Hacker Exchange, MAP, Mimictec, multi-million dollar e-comm founders and Foundation For Young Australians social entrepreneurs.
Lucy Liu will be back on her stomping ground for the Summit - she completed a Master of Finance and a Commerce degree at the University of Melbourne before Co-Founding Airwallex – and will explain to the audience how she and her team developed a technology that uses machine learning to determine the most cost-effective way of settling international payments on their platform.
Liu recently featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia and has just been appointed as Board Director for FinTech Australia, no mean feat in a male-dominated sector that has a chronic under-representation of females.
In a recent statement Reinventure Co-founder and FinTech Australia Board chair Simon Cant said:
“We have undergone some important constitutional changes to promote representation from states right across Australia and also to guarantee that at least 30 per cent of board members are women.”
“The gender diversity change in particular represents a leadership action by FinTech Australia to help drive improved female representation across our industry, following the finding last year that just 13 per cent of senior fintech positions were held by women.”
Liu is the only female in Airwallex’s founding team of five, which includes fellow University of Melbourne alumni Jack Zhang.
At an Innovation Bay Industry Networking Dinner I attended at Gilbert and Tobin in Melbourne last night, Zhang shared with the guests the startup’s rapid rise, vision, market opportunity and growth strategy.
Already backed by some of the biggest names in global commerce including Mastercard, tech venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China, Gobi Ventures and Chinese web giant Tencent Holdings (making its first investment play in an Australian startup), Airwallex is well placed to execute, recently securing another $AU17 million in Series A funding.
It's always fascinating to meet founders in the startup growth phase, and to understand how they navigate through a rapidly spinning startup vortex.
What struck me about Zhang was his palpable energy.
This is a founder who is hungry for market, quick to execute and alongside Liu, has a vision unconstrained. It’s an energy the company will need as it scales rapidly, amassing new hires every week (currently with a staff of 40 and growing in offices across Melbourne, Shanghai, London and Hong Kong) and jostling to secure an unfair advantage in a competitive internationalising fintech market.
So for the non-bankers (like me), what exactly does Airwallex do?
Airwallex has found a price and efficiency solution to allow SMEs to simplify the foreign exchange process and access interbank mid-market exchange rates when making cross-border transactions. In basic terms what they do is enable cheaper, faster international payments, allowing businesses and consumers to make and receive those payments at a lower price point, easily, securely and at scale.
Airwallex’s secret sauce is in the API they built that can integrate with existing payment systems to facilitate global transfers – the company clips a ticket (or fee) for each transaction, and uses algorithms, big data analytics and quantitative models to work around market volatility.
Airwallex is also in the enviable position of having access to a gateway licence in China to conduct international transactions, a privilege that many massive multinationals have not been able to secure. This is mainly due to the fintech currency markets, trading expertise, business acumen and strategic plays of Liu, who now divides her time between Melbourne, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
We are thrilled to have Lucy Liu sharing her Airwallex story, startup advice, #STEM leadership and tech career tips with hundreds of girls at the girledworld Summit and look forward to sharing the bigger learnings here.
Jump on our website to see our other amazing SUMMIT speakers and join us for one very big weekend of leadership, inspiration and empowerment!
@girledworld - Building the next generation of female leaders, founders and #STEM champions, one girl at a time. ✖️✖️