- No fees
- Easy to signup
- Multi-currency account
- Competitive rates
- Free virtual and physical cards
- Integrates with marketplaces
- Xero integration
Business owners are always on a hunt to find a better (or cheaper) bank account. And, in recent years, they’ve been spoilt for choice as more and more digital banks keep cropping up. One of these new startups is Australian Airwallex.
Before we dive in any further, here’s our short Airwallex verdict:
Airwallex is undoubtedly on the rise and is a good choice for SMEs worldwide. Their free multi-currency account offers employees free virtual and physical cards. And the FX rates are highly competitive. Worth checking out.
Airwallex is an Australian fintech founded in 2015 by four Chinese friends Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Lucy Yueting Liu, and Max Li. Jack and Max found the inspiration for their new company while owning a cafe and spending a lot of money on foreign exchange fees and banking costs while paying for coffee from abroad.
Together with friends from the University of Melbourne, Lucy and Xijing, they decided to transform international payments to help businesses operating cross-border.
Why is Airwallex so special?
Apart from being a unicorn company and worth more than $1 billion, Airwallex has many things going for it.
It offers an international business account with no sign-up fee and zero monthly account fees. You can make payments in 23 currencies to over 130 countries. You’ll get a USD, GBP, EUR, and AUD account that will enable you to invoice and accept payments from international customers in their preferred currency.
The transfer rates are on par or better than competitors such as Wise and make sending money a breeze. You can also seamlessly integrate with global platforms like eBay, Shopify, and Paypal.
Airwallex pros and cons
- No monthly fees
- Connects to Xero
- Competitive transfer rates
- Integrates with global marketplaces
- No minimum balance
- No app
- Sluggish customer service
- No monthly fees
- No foreign transaction fees
- Foreign Exchange margin 0.5% or 1% above interbank
How to open an Airwallex account
To start the signup process, go to their website and enter your name, business name, phone number, and email address. Various countries will need different supporting documentation.
For instance, to set up an account for a business that isn’t registered in Australia, China, Hong Kong, or Singapore, you need to prepare the following documents:
- Certificate of incorporation
- Supportive Business Documents
- ID of Legal Representative
- ID of UBO
- ID of Authorised Person
How to add funds
Your account will include Wallets for each currency that you hold with Airwallex. To add funds:
- Navigate to Wallet in the sidebar
- Click + Deposit or select a Wallet to see more information
- Click Add funds in the top right of your browser
- Select the currency required in the drop-down menu
- Send your funds to this bank account
Send payment to the bank account shown by using your own bank and include the Transaction reference number highlighted.
How fast you’ll get the funds depends on your own bank and the currency you fund your Wallet with. But generally, your funds will be available within 2 business days. In countries where Airwallex has integrated with local payment networks, your funds may be available sooner.
Airwallex global account
Airwallex global account lets you open local currency transaction accounts in Europe, the United Kingdom, the US, and Australia without leaving your office. Opening a local account can be nearly impossible if you don’t have an office in the country.
Airwallex gives you the opportunity to open a bank account that allows you to receive payments from SWIFT and/or the local payment system. The payments go directly to your wallet; they don’t stay in the global account. It’s just a way to receive payments.
For domestic payments, you can get an account in:
- Australia: AUD
- United States: USD
- EU: EUR
- Great Britain: GBP
- Japan: JPY but only from supported platforms in Japan such as Adyen, Amazon, Apple, eBay, Google, JD.com, PayPal, Shopify, and Yahoo
- Hong Kong: USD, HKD, CNY
And for SWIFT payments, accounts are available in:
- USD, SGD, HKD, CNH, JPY, AUD, CHF, CAD, EUR, GBP, and NZD
Airwallex Borderless Card
Airwallex is offering virtual and physical Visa cards. There are no limits as to how many cards, virtual or physical, an employee can have.
From 1st August 2021, your first 5 cards will be free, and any additional physical cards will cost AUD 15 per card.
You can easily create cards in minutes from your dashboard and order physical ones if needed. The Visa cards can be used worldwide with no foreign transaction fees.
Airwallex will directly debit your Airwallex multi-currency account in the local currency without any further hidden charges or conversion fees. For example, for a USD transaction, your USD wallet will be debited. There are 10 currencies offered for direct billing.
Physical cards are only available in Australia at the moment, with plans to roll them out globally.
With Airwallex, you’ll be able to send money to over 120 countries in 31 currencies. It offers competitive international transfers. In fact, sending money to countries in their local currency is free with local payment technology. So, if you’re sending USD to the USA, for instance, there’s only a small margin on FX charged.
Interbank rates + 0.5% fees is available in:
- AUD,HKD,CNY,JPY,EUR,GBP,CAD,CHF,NZD, and SGD
Interbank rates + 1% fees is available in:
- MYR,IDR,KRW,PHP,THB,VND,INR,NPR,PKR,BDT,TRY,LKR,SEK,NOK,DKK,HUF,CZK,PLN,HRK, and RON
If you want to send non-local currencies overseas (e.g., EUR to China), they will need to use the SWIFT network and charge an additional $10 payment fee. This is to cover the cost of using the SWIFT network.
Businesses that open accounts in Australia get a chance to redeem a plethora of rewards from global and local brands that you can redeem directly from your Airwallex account. Here are some of them:
- $5000 free Amazon Web Services credit
- 25% off the first 12 months for Slack plans
- 20% off annual Canva Pro subscription
- $100 shipping credit with Easyship
- 1 month free trial with Linktree
- $300 shipping credit with ShipBob
How is Airwallex regulated?
Airwallex is regulated in five countries for now:
- Australia: Regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) under an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL – license number 487221) and with AUSTRAC, the Australian Transactions Report & Analysis Centre
- United Kingdom: Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Electronic Money Institution – 900876)
- Canada: Registered as a Money Service Business (MSB) with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
- Hong Kong: Licensed as a Money Services Operator by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department
- Netherlands: Licensed as an electronic money institution (elektronischgeldinstelling) and as such supervised by the Dutch Central Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank)
- EEA: Airwallex has passported its license throughout the European Economic Area, allowing it to issue electronic money and offer regulated payment services across the EEA
- United States: Registered as a Money Service Business with FinCEN in some, but not all, states.
Is my money safe with Airwallex?
Airwallex isn’t a bank and doesn’t have a banking license in any country. What this draws is the lack of government insurance of your deposits. Usually, bank deposits are insured up to €100,000, £85,000, or up to $250,000 in the EU, UK, and the USA, respectively.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any safeguards—quite the opposite. Airwallex has to keep customer funds in separate accounts in big banks where the company can’t access them except for the sole purpose that they were intended for.
So, if Airwallex were to go belly up, you’d get your deposits safely returned by the banks.
Apart from that, all transactions are encrypted using an RSA key and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption.
Who owns Airwallex?
Airwallex was founded in 2015 by Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Lucy Yueting Liu, Max Li. Its headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia. They also have offices around the world in San Francisco, HK, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing.
The company raised more than $500 million from nine rounds of funding. The last corporate round brought in $100 million in March 2021.
It has 17 investors that include Greenoaks Capital, Skip Capital, DST Global, ANZi Ventures, Square Peg Capital, and others.
Airwallex customer service
You can reach Airwallex customer support via phone, chat, or online.
- Australia +61 13 32 99
- China +864008663888
- Europe +31 85 0003 369
- Hong Kong +852 3001 5833
- United Kingdom +44 808 196 7574
- United States +1 855 932 3331
Airwallex has a 4.0-star rating out of 5 on Trustpilot from only 90 reviews, with 74% of reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 21% a bad one. With a 4.0 score, Airwallex is placed much higher than PayPal with a 1.2-star rating, and Netteler and its 2.5 stars. Skrill, for example, has a 4.1-star rating, Wise a 4.6, Payoneer 4.4, and Stripe 3.4. Square, on the other hand, has a 4.7-star rating.
People usually complain about unresponsive customer service, extended verification wait times, and account terminations.
Formerly called TransferWise, Wise has been with us for more than ten years. It offers similar things that Airwallex offers and is also available worldwide. The difference is that you can open personal accounts and send one-off international transfers.
Used by hundreds of millions of people, PayPal is a default money transfer service for many businesses because of ease of use and the fact that nearly everyone has an account. It’s not relatively cheap when it comes to foreign exchange but is convenient.
Revoult already has more than 15+ million users and 500,000 businesses under its belt. They have taken the world by storm and have become a financial super-app for personal and business users.
Strictly used for business transactions, Payoneer is a household name by now. Payoneer has a wide range of payment services and solutions that make it easy to pay and get paid. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, as some fees can quickly add up and eat a part of your profit.
The bottom line
Business owners who want a no-frills business account that will enable them to have a free multi-currency account and competitive FX rates don’t need to look further than Airwallex.
Free borderless Visa cards and a suite of APIs to accept online payments, manage treasury, and launch financial products globally are added bonuses.
Adrian Volenik is a fintech enthusiast who loves testing and reviewing digital banking apps and financial products in general. How many digital banking accounts can one man have? Not enough, if you ask Adrian. As his wallet will soon explode if he doesn’t cut back on the number of cards.