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Jon Russell @jonrussell /

Airwallex , a three-year-old fintech startup focused on international payments for SMEs and businesses, is putting itself on the map after it raised an $80 million Series B round.

Based out of Melbourne, but with six offices in Asia and other parts of the world, Airwallex’s new funding round is the second-largest financing deal for an Australian startup in history. The round was led by existing investors Tencent, the $500 billion Chinese internet giant, and Sequoia China. Other participants included China’s Hillhouse, Horizons Ventures — the fund from Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing — Indonesia-basedCentral Capital Ventura (BCA) and Australia’s Square Peg, a firm from Paul Bassat, who took recruitment firm Seek to IPO and is one of Australia’s highest-profile founders.

The financing takes Airwallex to $102 million raised. Tencent led a $13 million Series A in May 2017, while Square Peg added $6 million more via a Series A+ in December. Mastercard is also a backer; the finance giant uses Airwallex to handle Small Leather Goods Belts SSSR Venezia szHucHkjoA
, while Tencent uses the service to power an overseas remittance service for its WeChat app.

Airwallex handles cross-border transactions for companies that do business in multiple countries using international currencies. So it’s not unlike a TransferWise-style service for SMEs that lack the capital to develop a sophisticated (and expensive) international banking system of their own.

The service uses wholesale FX rates to route overseas payments back to a client’s domestic bank and is capable of processing “thousands of transactions persecond,” according to the company. A use case example might include helping a China-based seller return money earned in the U.S. or Europe via Amazon or other e-commerce services, or route sales revenue back directly from their own website.

China is a key market for Airwallex — which was started by four Australian-Chinese founders — as well as the wider Asian region, and in particular Australia, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. With this new capital, Airwallex co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang said the company will increase its focus on Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, whilst also extending its business in Europe (where it has a London-based office) and pushing into North America.

Product RD is shared across Melbourne and Shanghai, while Hong Kong accounts for business development, compliance and more, Zhang explained. However, Airwallex’s locations in London and San Francisco are likely to account for most of the upcoming headcount growth planned following this funding.Right now, Airwallex has around 100 staff, according to Zhang.

The company is also aiming to expand its product range.

The firm is in the process of applying for a virtual banking license in Hong Kong, a third-party payment license in mainland China and a cross-border Chinese yuan license. One goal, Zhang revealed, is to offer working capital loans to SMEs to help them scale their businesses to the next level. Airwallex is working with an undisclosed partner to underwrite deals in the future. Zhang explained that the company sees a gap in the market since banks don’t have access to critical data on clients for loan assessments.

More generally, he’s bullish for the future, despite Brexit and the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

“Thetrade war gives the Chinese yuan a lot of vitality, and we’ve seen more demand in the market. China’s belt road initiative has really taken off, too, and we’re seeing the impact in many, many of our payment corridors,” he explained. “Business has been booming, especially as traditional offline SMEs start to move online and go from domestic to global.”

“We want to be the backbone to support these newopportunitiesfor businesses,” Zhang added.

Airwallex CEO Jack Zhang (far right) onstage at TechCrunch Shenzhen in 2017

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Some islands... they come, they go, especially on Lake Travis.

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At normal water levels, these “islands” are submerged or barely visible, but due to drought, they have actually become a peninsula.

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They have been exposed for so long that Saltcedar bushes are beginning to colonize them, and there appear to be dusty remnants of a road from before the Mansfield Dam was built (an austere yet elegant Art Deco hydroelectric facility finished in 1941).

It is a surprisingly popular spot for kayakers, whetherthey are barely above the waterline—or in this case actually connected to the land. The Sometimes Islands have not been a peninsula since the 1960s, the narrow channel separating them from land drying up in 2009. Old-time locals will tell you that this land was once cattle grazing land before the flooding took place.

The Sometimes Islands appear serene and devoid of people as they are uninvitingly rocky and bushy, not terribly appealing to less… adventurous or curious folk. Since it is now a sometimes peninsula jutting 3/4 of a mile into the southern bend of Lake Travis, it can currently be reached on foot from Mansfield Dam Park.

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Frederick Fox was especially known as a milliner, who designed hats for Queen Elizabeth. His clients also included Princess Alexandra, Diana, Princess of Wales, Hillary Clinton and Joan Collins. Fox made around 350 hats for the Queen over 35 years, and became known for his desire to make big and outstanding hats that made an impression. Notable hats that Fox made included the 1977 pink hat with 25 fabric bells, and the flying saucer hat for Princess Diana . The prototype for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee hat is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

From high fashion swimwear to carefree yet sophisticated resort wear, Sydney-born sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann launched their label, Zimmerman , in 1991, followed by the opening of their first store in Sydney, in 1992. They debuted at the 1996 Australian Fashion Week where they proceeded to build a fashion empire. With stores across Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, the sisters have been awarded many awards, including Swimwear Designer of the Year at Australian Fashion Week (1999) and Best Swimwear Brand at Prix de Marie Claire (2005) for their ability to push ‘new design and technical boundaries’. Making their way from selling garments in Sydney’s Paddington Markets in the early 1990s to becoming an icon on New York’s catwalks, Zimmermann has become a highly sought-after label.

Nicky Simone Zimmermann | © Eva Rinaldi / Flickr

A brand associated with florals, slip dresses and silk blouses, the nature-inspired label put an affordable twist on resort styles. Founded by fashion expert sisters Georgie and Lizzie Renkert (Lizzie worked as a fashion editor for major Australian publications and was a host of Project Runway (Georgie has years of experience in buying and production), they know Aussies are good at layering and investing in staples and styled their brand to reflect that. The unique Australian lifestyle centred on sun and the beach dictates the way they design their clothes – with lightness and fluidity.

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For such a new and specific label, this brand has taken off and become a must-have for all Australians. If you’ve been looking for the perfect, all-day everyday bag that fits everything, looks great and won’t get ruined if your thermos of coffee leaks, you need State of Escape . Founded in 2014 by Brigitte MacGowan and Desley Maidment after an unfortunate bag-leaking situation of their own, their line of bags is centred around strong, lightweight fabrics, convenient sizes and bright colours. Made of neoprene fabric and with a structured base of sailing rope, the athleisure bags come in a variety of vivid hues are a tribute to the beachy aesthetic of the Australian landscape.

It’s incredibly exciting to see the 100,000-point offer back on theBusiness Platinum, as this is one of the most valuable welcome bonuses ever. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents each , meaning that if you earn the full bonus amount, you’ll get $1,900 worth of points. The bonus is tiered though, and in order to earn the full 100,000, you’ll have to spend quite a bit:

Remember, this card is made for small businesses, so it’s not unusual for them to have a high level of expenses. But even after you’ve earned the welcome bonus, this card is still a keeper. It offers a $200 annual airline credit, a Priority Pass select membership, access to Centurion lounges, access to Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Gold status with Hilton Honors and Starwood ( which will convert to Marriott Gold in the new program ) and a host of other benefits . The $450 annual fee isn’t cheap, but the long list of perks helps offset it and it’s still $100 cheaper than the $550 annual fee on the personal Modal Scarf Morpheus by VIDA VIDA qvmN3Z4i
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Speaking of the personal Amex Platinum, if you’re hoping to find a 100,000-point offer on that card — and you happen to be lucky — you might find a targeted offer through the CardMatch tool . You just need to enter some information about yourself, including your name and the last four digits of your SSN, and the tool will deliver you personalized card offers, which could include a 100,000 point welcome bonus on the Amex Platinum. That targeted offer resurfaced earlier this year and still seems to be available to some fortunate applicants.

British Airways Visa Signature Card

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The last two tiers of this bonus count all your purchases for the year, so after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, you only need another $7,000 to unlock the second tier. When you factor in the spending you have to do to earn the bonus, you’ll walk away with a grand total of 120,000 Avios, which is enough to take some pretty impressive trips .

Co-branded airline credit cards usually don’t come with that many bells and whistles, but theBritish Airways Visa has one impressive perk worth trying to take advantage of: the Travel Together Ticket . You’ll earn this pass after spending $30,000 in a calendar year, and unlike other companion fares, this one is valid on award tickets instead of cash bookings. Just pay taxes and fees — which to be fair, can be quite high on British Airways — and your friend can travel in the same cabin as you (pending availability).

The Avios program is unique in that multiple airlines — British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus — all participate in some form of it. Even better, you can combine Avios between these different programs depending on which airline you want to book with. So if 120,000 Avios isn’t enough for the trip you’re planning, you can also sign up for the new Modal Scarf Chain Breaker Scarf by VIDA VIDA 0mphNEj
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