Online vs Offline Commerce

Wyre to help Chinese vendors repatriate overseas earnings

Smaller Chinese manufacturers enjoying robust sales on Amazon are confronted with the challenge of remitting their earnings. Cross border payment specialist Wyre says their blockchain technology can help

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 8:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 2017, 10:56pm

There is rising demand to transfer overseas funds to China, as mainland vendors seek to repatriate earnings from goods sold on Amazon, according to a specialist in blockchain technology to settle transactions between parties in different countries.

Amazon has made its logistics services available to small and medium-sized companies in China through its Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) service since 2015. The FBA programme offers transportation and cross-border logistics services, including freight forwarding. The service has enabled Amazon to attract Chinese manufacturers wishing to sell their products on its marketplaces in the US and other countries.

As such, there’s growing demand for Chinese vendors wanting to exchange or repatriate their foreign currencies into yuan, according to Neil Woodfine, Beijing-based growth manager for Asia at Wyre, a cross-border payments firm from San Francisco.

Woodfine, 31, is also a co-founder of start-up Remitsy, which was bought by Wyre in April.

Wyre and Remitsy offer cross border payments between the US and China using blockchain, a ledger of transactions underpinning bitcoin and maintained by a network of computers.

“The payment market is super competitive,” said Woodfine, adding that Wyre customers can expect the cheapest and fastest way to make payments to China in yuan based on real exchange rates.

Wyre also has a partnership with Alipay, China’s biggest online payments platform, offering customers an option to accept payments into their mobile wallet.

Woodfine co-founded Remitsy with Richard Bensberg, whom he met while they were working together at Okcoin, one of the biggest exchanges in China for bitcoin. Remitsy was founded in 2015 in Beijing before it was sold to Wyre for a undisclosed sum.

“The odds of success [for a start-up] was low,” said Woodfine, adding that Wyre is in a better financial position to take the payment business to the next level. In a funding round in December last year, Wyre received US$5.8 million in series A funding from Beijing-based private equity firm Amphora Capital and 9FBank, a mobile internet financial service platform also from Beijing.

Additionally, Wyre counts Draper Associates, which was founded by billionaire venture capital investor Tim Draper, Boost VC, Digital Currency Group and Seabed VC as investors.

Following the acquisition, the Beijing-based company continues to focus on growing its customers in China. The next round of financing is also likely to come from Chinese investors, Woodfine said.