Spend Platform Brex Taps Airwallex as It Plans Global Expansion

Payments platform Airwallex says it is helping FinTech Brex with its worldwide expansion.

“In today’s economic climate, every business is navigating two competing interests: expanding operations and saving costs,” Jack Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Airwallex, said in a Wednesday (July 19) news release

“Traditional banking solutions,” Zhang added, “make that nearly impossible as global expansion is often accompanied by burdensome complexity, slow time to market, and complicated regulatory requirements.”

According to the release, Brex — a global spend platform — is employing Airwallex offerings such as local currency collections for its global corporate card and employee expense reimbursements as it begins its expansion.

“Leading enterprises are expanding their footprints globally and are looking to Brex for employee spend and expense management across their operations,” said Henrique Dubugras, the company’s founder and co-CEO.

“Brex has invested years and millions of dollars in the financial infrastructure to power this global money movement and therefore chooses its partners very carefully.”

PYMNTS spoke last year with Brex Chief Operating Officer Michael Tannenbaum about the rise of digital banking.

As that report noted, some consumers have begun questioning the need for in-branch banking at all, opting instead to bank with digital-native options, such as FinTechs or challenger banks. It’s a move Tannenbaum said has put traditional financial institutions (FIs) on the back foot.

“People are going digital-first,” he said. “They’re not really asking, ‘Does this financial provider or bank have a digital offering?’ They think of that bank or financial company as the digital offering [itself].”

Embedded finance solutions can help create a level playing field for traditional banks, however. Tannenbaum provided an inside look at how the benefit these systems provide can give FIs a competitive edge.

“What people liked about the branch is that you can get somebody to help you. If you go in with whatever request you have, they’ll address it,” said Tannenbaum. “But the [banking-as-a-]service model doesn’t require in-person [visits], so increasingly you’re seeing digital providers, whether they’re legacy or not legacy, investing [in remote services].”

Consumer expectations for digital banking have grown so high, he added, that the separation between in-branch and digital banking has become obsolete. Digital offerings are now the default, with in-branch services turning a bonus that consumers can use as they wish.

“The physical nature of financial services, whether it be branches or paper, has gone away,” Tannenbaum told PYMNTS. “Even the word digital has become somewhat obsolete.”