>>Airwallex, a financial technology startup that enables companies to make cross-border payments efficiently, said it had it had closed its Series A round at $19 million.
Square Peg Capital, Tencent, Sequoia Capital China, Gobi Partners, and MasterCard participated as investors in the round, raised in stages over the past year.
The Melbourne-based business doesn’t exclusively focus on travel, but many of its early customers are travel agencies and online marketplaces providing travel, especially in Asia Pacific.
Co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang previously led revamp of payments solutions at Air New Zealand.
Launched this summer, the cross-border payments platform uses machine learning to analyze each transaction that comes through to choose the optimal route for delivering payments from several options, depending on factors like speed and cost.
For example, someone running a tour guide marketplace for Southeast Asia may have a local guide who wants to be paid in Indonesian rupiah and a traveler who wants to pay for the tour with a debit card at an Australian bank. Today’s cross-border tech solutions often take hours or sometimes days to complete a transaction like that. AirWallex claims to speed up the process while trimming interbank fees.
PAR Capital, Draper Nexus, and Highgate Ventures participated in the round, as did investor Erik Blachford, a former CEO of Expedia.
UpLift also expanded its lending capacity to $200 million and closed additional liquidity, via a credit facility, to backstop its layaway plan product.
American Airlines Vacations, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines are clients who use it to extend credit to U.S. consumers, enabling travelers to pay for their trips over time rather than up-front.
This year, UpLift’s average 12-month travel loan through travel brands was $2,420, said CEO Brian Barth in an interview. For “highly-qualified” borrowers, it has typically charged an 8.99 percent annual percentage rate, he said.
Paying in monthly payments primarily appeals to consumers with average credit ratings who are willing to accept short-term, interest-based loans. But consumers with high credit scores also appear to be getting tempted into splurging on luxury trips if companies lend them credit on attractive terms, UpLift said.
Other companies offering similar installment plan products include Affirm and Airfordable.
>>Splitty, a consumer-focused online travel company, raised $2.4 million in a seed round. Techstars Accelerator, Techstars Ventures, AOL, and BIP Capital are key investors.
Launched in 2015, Splitty combines differing rate plans from multiple travel wholesalers and online travel agencies to create a new type of hotel product.
Consumers using its hotel search can in a single booking split their stay into multiple reservations. That move can save money because hotels sometimes charge more for a multiple-night reservation than they would collectively for selling the same room as several one-night reservations.
The Tel Aviv-based company with 10 full-time employees has partnerships with American Airlines, Trivago, AOL, Deloitte, Cox Enterprises. Carl Sparks, former president and CEO of Travelocity, is a Splitty advisory board member and vocal advocate.
Splitty said that hotel revenue managers should like it for helping hotels claw back share from alternative accommodations providers that may be priced more competitively than hotels for multi-night stays.
But a couple hotel industry executives told Skift they dislike the product’s potential for complicating their back-office operations.
>>Futurestay, a management automation platform for vacation rentals, said that this autumn it raised an equity seed round of $2.3 million.
New York Angels & Newark Venture Partners led the round, with private investors also contributing.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company, founded in 2012, said it being used in more than 180 countries by 78,000 properties overseen by more than 20,000 managers.
Several digital marketing platforms and channel managers claim to automate parts of the digital marketing of vacation rentals for so-called “instant bookings” on platforms like HomeAway and Booking.com.
Futurestay said that it does that but it stands apart from rivals by also automating much of the back-office work necessary after a reservation is completed.
The property manager market is fractured, which presents either an opportunity or a challenge for companies attempting to sell software tools — depending on how you look at it. CEO Philip Kennard said, “We’re currently adding 1,500 properties a month and expect to double that pace to 3,000 properties a month by the third quarter of 2018.”
>Valeet, a curbside airport valet parking service and mobile app, has raised $1.8 million last month in convertible notes. Plug&Play and Aurorial led the investment.
The company did not disclose the amount. Amadeus Ventures, the investment arm of travel technology giant Amadeus, Unirisco, and Xesgalicia are key investors. For reference, Amadeus Ventures investments in seed rounds typically range between about $500,000 and $4 million.
The Spanish company said that thousands of buildings worldwide use its technology for indoor mapping by tapping into sensors in smartphones, such as for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It provides its services for resale by other information technology companies.
The startup, founded in 2014 by three engineers with doctorates in robotics, finds itself in a suddenly competitive market.
Earlier this year, LocusLabs, a San Francisco-based company that’s creating centimeter-accurate indoor models of dozens of airports worldwide, received a $3.5 million Series A round. Its investors included SITA, the research-and-development arm of the airline industry.
Ultimately, the companies in the space may hope to be acquired by larger competitors such as Alphabet’s Google, Mapbox, or Nokia’s mapping business.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.