LUCY LIU Airwallex

Airwallex

Lucy Liu

Cofounder and President, Airwallex

In 2015, a group of college friends in Melbourne were seeking a solution to a business problem. Two of the group had set up a coffee shop in the Australian city but were feeling the pain of fees imposed by banks on their imports from China. Pursuing a more equitable solution, the group decided to quit their jobs and Airwallex was born.

Airwallex is a cross-border payments platform that targets companies doing businesses in multiple countries. The service can save users up to 90% on their foreign exchange rates compared to traditional banks, as well as simplifying the challenge of doing business overseas.

Earlier this year, Airwallex raised $160 million in Series D funding, and has now raised over $360 million.

Lucy Liu, one of the four founders and now company president, gave up a job in investment banking to join her friends. Like her cofounders she is from China and moved to Australia in 2008 to study, having previously settled with her family in New Zealand.

Liu’s international exposure has served her well. She is leading the company’s plans to expand into Europe, North America, and the Middle East, helped by what she says is a large contributor to the success of Airwallex — having the “regulatory mindset” to navigate global banking markets.

"At a time where globalization has enabled businesses to sell products and services from one country to another, one of the biggest impediments to growth remain the challenges of transaction banking across geographical borders. This is where we come in," Liu tells Business Insider. "Airwallex is empowering businesses of all sizes to grow in their own markets and around the world, and by doing so, contribute to the global economy."