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Airwallex is the first ever Australian start-up to join MasterCard’s Start Path accelerator

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Jack Zhang

Melbourne fintech start-up, Airwallex, has been announced as the first ever Australian company selected by Mastercard’s Start Path accelerator program. Airwallex raised $US3 million funding from Chinese based VC Gobi Partners in January, to grow its cross-border payment platform that simplifies the foreign exchange process for SMEs.

Airwallex joins the ranks of just over 90 other companies to go through the six-month program since its inception two years ago, with Start Path alumni including UK currency exchange and e-wallet startup Revolut, recently acquired US restaurant bill splitting app Dash.

What does this mean for Airwallex?

Through the program, Mastercard will provide the Airwallex leadership team with weekly mentorship, tailored assistance programs and most critically, access and introductions to the multinational’s global ecosystem of financial partners.

Mastercard also has the option to invest up to 10 per cent into the next Airwallex funding round as part of the program. To date it has invested in or is running pilot programs with nearly 20 per cent of the program’s companies.

Airwallex CEO, Jack Zhang said: “We’re proud to be selected as the first Australian based company to take part in the MasterCard Start Path program. The opportunity to have one-on-one mentorship and guidance from leaders of one of the world’s most successful global payments companies is unbelievably valuable and is already helping to open new doors for us and grow our global network of influential individuals and companies.”

“Like many Australian fintech start-ups, building strong working relationships with banks, regulators, established fintech players and potential partners in the global payment and foreign exchange community is incredibly important to our success and ongoing international expansion.”

Mastercard accelerates search for APAC start-ups

Aside from Airwallex, another new company based out of Asia Pacific that has recently signed up to join Start Path is IMG, a computer vision company from China that is working on embedding gesture recognition in virtual reality and augmented reality. Its products have different use cases spanning from virtual retail changing rooms to 3D modelling for gaming.

Start Path was established in early 2014 as a way for Mastercard to work directly with global start-ups building innovative solutions covering everything from blockchain to artificial intelligence and chatbots. Over the last two years, Start Path has worked with over 90 companies across 24 countries. Notably Mastercard is currently running active pilots with or has directly invested in nearly 20 percent of the companies.

“In 2014 we wanted to look beyond Mastercard and support innovation that was being developed by new and upcoming, early-stage companies,” said Stephane Wyper, Global Lead Mastercard Start Path.

“We believe every start-up is unique and that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to working together. We have put in place different mechanisms including pilots with Mastercard business lines, access to our APIs, and connectivity to our customer base and partner networks.”

Razorpay, an online payment gateway in India has received investment from Mastercard through the Start Path program. ViSenzeMoneytree and Kasisto are all working with Start Path to identify growth areas, partnership possibilities and integration plans within and beyond Mastercard.

Each quarter, Mastercard Start Path recruits a new class of startups to embark on the six-month virtual program. The program is currently accepting applications for its next class. The application window to join the next class is open until October 11, 2016. To apply, visit www.startpath.com. The program is open to all non-US based start-ups.

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