Qantas and Melbourne-based fintech colossus Airwallex are teaming up to launch a new platform enabling small and medium-sized companies to earn frequent flyers points whenever they perform international transactions.
When it debuts in the second quarter of 2022, Qantas Business Money will allow businesses to set up online accounts in 11 popular worldwide currencies for easy local payments, and access foreign conversion rates which Qantas claims are up to 70% cheaper than big banks.
Members of the Qantas Business Rewards program will earn an initial sign-up bonus of 25,000 points and an ongoing rate of one point for every A$10 transacted.
Payments can be made using virtual Visa Business Debit cards set up in the destination currency to enable fast transactions and reconciliation.
A hybrid between a pre-loaded international travel money card and a PayPal-style instant payment system, Qantas Business Money is built on the foundations of the Airwallex global payments platform, which has raised US$800 million – including a $US40 million investment from Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar – since it was established in 2015.
Airwallex’ birth is a small business story in its own right: the venture was started after the owners of Melbourne Docklands cafe Tukk & Co noticed the complexities and high exchange fees involved in buying coffee cups and labels from overseas suppliers. That was the seed to develop a modern, real-time international payments solution which is now valued at a staggering US$5.5 billion.
Airwallex CEO Jack Zhang, one of the original owners of Tukk & Co, says the partnership with Qantas “is testament to the strength of our competitive global financial infrastructure that we’ve built over the last six years.”
“Our platform empowers small businesses to operate globally without complexities and remove barriers to international expansion.”
Tony Nikro, whose Sydney-based freight forwarder Nikro Customs and Trade Services does business in Asia, North America and Europe, was among the 170 SMBs to trial Qantas Business Money in 2021.
Nikro said the platform overcame challenges with traditional financial services which can be complex, slow and involve a lot of red tape.
“I’d never used anything like it before, it’s not set up like a bank or money transfer, which we’ve predominantly used in the pastime “ he recounts.
“Structurally, it was so different, it was quick, easy and much better value, plus, the potential to earn Qantas Points is incredibly appealing.”
Launched in February 2017, Qantas Business Rewards is a ‘business’ version of the airline’s dominant frequent flyer scheme.
Businesses earn Qantas Points for flights taken by staff, on top of the Qantas Points and Status Credits earned by the travellers themselves.
This means that you can essentially ‘double-dip’ on points earned for flights, since you can transfer Qantas Points earned for the business into any Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
Additional reporting by Matt Lennon