Airwallex, the fintech unicorn backed by Tencent Holdings and tycoon Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, has secured a licence to offer online payment services in mainland China through an acquisition. The company, founded in Melbourne in 2015, said it obtained a payments business licence in China by way of acquiring 100 per cent of online payments and information services firm Guangzhou Shang Wu Tong Network Technology. The deal, approved by all relevant Chinese regulators, means Airwallex is now a third-party online payments provider in China, it said in a statement on Tuesday. “Looking ahead, we can now significantly enhance our capabilities to empower entrepreneurs and modern businesses to leverage technology and grow without borders,” said Kai Wu, Airwallex’s chief revenue officer and general manager of Asia-Pacific, in the statement. Airwallex’s products allow businesses to accept online payments, conduct foreign exchange transactions, manage cashflows, make domestic and international fund transfers and issue virtual payment cards to staff and suppliers. China’s e-CNY app adds WeChat Pay as ‘express payment’ option after Alipay China’s cumulative digital payments reached US$3.5 trillion by the end of last year, making it a global leader, followed by the US with US$1.8 trillion, according to Chinese market research firm Daxue Consulting. Almost two-thirds of the nation’s 1.4 billion people have used mobile payments, and residents in large cities on average paid 80 per cent of their monthly expenditures this way in 2021, a China UnionPay research report found. Airwallex said the latest approval adds to its existing licenses across major markets including Australia, the European Union, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and United States. Its financial platform covers over 150 nations, handling some US$50 billion of transactions annually. In November 2021, the company said its valuation soared to US$5.5 billion following its US$100 million Series E1 fund-raising round. It has raised US$902 million in total. “To better address the pain points encountered in cross-border transactions between China and the rest of the world, our team will work towards integrating our platform,” Wu said. “This means we can … [introduce] products and services in China for businesses of all sizes in their global expansion plans.” Airwallex’s investors include San Francisco-based Greenoaks Capital, Australia’s Grok Ventures, Singapore-based Hillhouse Capital Group and Sequoia Capital China. In the past three months, it has formed partnerships with credit cards issuer American Express, corporate online travel management firm Navan and financial sector data transfer network provider Plaid. In 2021, it teamed up with Visa to offer a “borderless” virtual card in Hong Kong to compete in the business-to-business payments market.