The key trends to follow in the global payments space – an Airwallex interview

Friday 9 December 2022 08:21 CET | Editor: Alin Popa | Interview

Pranav Sood is GM, EMEA at Airwallex, talks about the main challenges when moving money globally and explains which are the trends that will determine a change in this space.


Can you give an overview of Airwallex, your role, and the EMEA business?

Airwallex is a global fintech platform that helps businesses grow beyond borders.

The business was born in Australia, in 2015, when some friends from Melbourne University experienced first-hand how hard it is to manage money globally as they tried to run a coffee shop. The shop still exists today, but they found a space with bigger problems!

Since then, Airwallex has built the infrastructure, APIs and software that enable businesses of all sizes to manage their money globally. Our customers can leverage our licenses to collect payments across all the major card schemes and 70+ LPMs, hold and convert funds and payout in more than 45 currencies and 150 countries globally. We’ve also built the full financial operating system, including things like expense management, that modern businesses need to operate worldwide.

In my role as GM of EMEA, I’m responsible for building our business across the region and am also a member of Airwallex’s global executive team.

Airwallex first established a presence in EMEA just a little over two years ago. We’re now a team of 120 people across London, Amsterdam, and Vilnius – and are still actively hiring as we expand our footprint. The business has grown rapidly: we now have over 1,000 customers in EMEA including Plum, Papaya Global, and Wayflyer and our revenue grew more than 10x year over year.

What are the main challenges when it comes to moving money globally, and what are some examples of technologies that streamline this process?

In today’s world, businesses and consumers alike expect fast, reliable services. This is the same when it comes to moving money. However, moving money globally is incredibly difficult – it’s a highly regulated space and it’s time-consuming. Besides, international payments across geographies are costly and inefficient. The entire process is also extremely fragmented and involves a number of third parties which can oftentimes slow down the transaction lifecycle.

With one of the most powerful financial technology platforms, we remove the constraints modern businesses face when managing and moving money globally. Airwallex provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for cross-border payments, collections, FX, and other value-add solutions for SMEs, and an API for larger businesses requiring customisation.

A great example of our one-stop-shop offering is with Orbitkey, a Melbourne-based lifestyle retail brand, which needed an efficient, cost-effective, and global payment infrastructure provider to help them with its growth ambitions. With our single platform, we provided Orbitkey with localised bank account details, no-cost deposits, low-cost FX transfers, and reduced administration time – saving over 70% on transfer fees on USD and EUR payments, 75% faster payments from wholesalers from four days to one day received, and saved their team six hours in administration time.

In addition to our one-stop-shop, a growing part of Airwallex’s business is our embedded finance offering for larger businesses. For global fintechs, platforms, marketplaces, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, we offer integrations that can help power their businesses.

We also have a Scale offering, which is a customisable API that enables businesses to manage their entire transaction lifecycle and turn complex payments, treasury, issuing, and FX flows into recurring revenue. A recent example of this is with Paysera, a Lithuania-founded fintech, that is leveraging our payments and banking infrastructure to allow its customers to accept, hold, and convert money between 149 international countries as well as create IBANs in nine countries.

What are the fintech and payment trends gaining more ground in the last 12 months that have the potential to impact the future of money movement across borders in EMEA in the near future?

Embedded finance (EmFi) and Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) solutions are a trend that has been picking up speed, and which we will continue to see in the year ahead. While EmFi and BaaS have been around for a few years, they’re still relatively new concepts and have yet to be widely adopted. 

A global ecommerce marketplace is a great example of how EmFi and BaaS work. As a mass store, each business transacts and holds large amounts of money from numerous customers worldwide. With BaaS, the ecommerce marketplace can enable payments on platform and in turn, can process and handle payments, FX and payouts to their global merchants – creating a streamlined experience for the business, their customers and the marketplace.

Alternatively, have you ever used an app to place a coffee order for pickup? This is a perfect example of embedded payments for a consumer, as you can order and pay via your phone.

There are still so many ways to adopt EmFi and BaaS solutions, but what needs to happen is for more people and businesses to embrace the embedded finance concept. Once more trust is obtained, we can expect more embedded services and products such as embedded lending, embedded insurance, and more.

I’m very bullish on EmFi and BaaS, I really see it to be a huge catalyst for change in the global payments space.

More broadly, what other key trends are you seeing in the global payments space today that get you excited about the future of fintech and payments?

We’ve seen much more willingness, and greater adoption of fintech over the past years – partially due to the need to do so – with COVID-19 restricting travel and international trade – but I also do believe there is growing recognition that without fintech, companies won’t be able to navigate and operate in an increasingly tech-driven society effectively.

Before we know it, every business will be a fintech in some capacity. We’re already seeing an increased focus on revenue quality and stickiness start to emerge, and this will drive more businesses to look for ways to up- and cross-sell to customers in the next year. As a key element of attracting and retaining customers in today’s challenging market, more businesses will be asking themselves: can we provide financial services that give customers one streamlined experience directly on our website, app, or social media platform?

As a result, we’ll see more and more businesses looking to enhance their offering with embedded finance services, from embedded payments to even embedded lending. We will also likely see more companies relying on fintech partners to provide these platform services. This increased bundling of services means more businesses will increasingly incorporate elements of a fintech.

About Pranav Sood

Pranav Sood is GM, EMEA at Airwallex, where he is responsible for building out and overseeing Airwallex’s operations and teams across EMEA, including supporting its global strategy. Previously, Pranav was VP of Small Business at GoCardless, and he led a cross-functional team responsible for acquiring and growing its SME customers.

About Airwallex

Airwallex is the leading financial technology platform for modern businesses growing beyond borders. With one of the world’s most powerful payments and banking infrastructure, our technology empowers businesses of all sizes to accept payments, move money globally, and simplify their financial operations, all in one single platform.

Airwallex has a global footprint across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America. Find out more at

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Keywords: online payments, cross-border payments, fintech, BaaS, API
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Airwallex
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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