Summer of startups: Airfox

Efma feature

02 August 2018

Katie Sedat, head of marketing at Airfox, tells Boris Plantier how the company is extending vital financial services to unbanked and underbanked people in emerging markets.

Airfox was created to make financial services accessible to underserved areas of the population. “Victor Santos, CEO and co-founder of Airfox, grew up in Brazil in an immigrant family, well aware of the hardships and financial barriers endured by low-income families,” explains Katie Sedat, head of marketing at Airfox. “More than 44% of Brazil’s population is unbanked, another 30-44% lack sufficient access to mainstream financial services, and those with credit cards face interest rates upwards of 200%. This financial situation makes it difficult for the majority of Brazilians to rise into the middle class. Victor recognized that if those at the bottom of the economic pyramid were supported, they could gain stronger positions in microeconomies, and unleash great growth potential. He co-founded Airfox to enable financial inclusion for all through extending critical financial services to the billions of unbanked and underbanked in emerging markets across the globe.”

Airfox addresses the highly fragmented financial landscape in underserved areas with a new mobile financial ecosystem leveraging blockchain. “Airfox is a mobile cash-free and card-free wallet that facilitates easy cash deposits, microloans and international remittances for quick and inexpensive money transfers and digital payments,” says Sedat. “All of this is optimized for use on low-cost Android phones common in emerging markets.”

The company’s AirToken is central to its services. “Rather than buying and selling goods with money, users trade with AirTokens, Ethereum-based ERC-20 digital utility tokens which are represented as monetary amounts on the system,” explains Sedat. “To get started, users deposit money in their Airfox account, using a Boleto Bancário, which is easily generated using the platform. From there, users can pay for items, transfer credits to friends, and apply for and even offer loans. In February 2018, Airfox launched its free Android app in Brazil giving millions of people unprecedented access to much-needed financing solutions. In three months, the Airfox app already has more than 5,000 installs through the Google Play store. For the first time, billions of people without a bank account, credit card or credit history can access financial services to help lift themselves out of poverty.”

With almost 10,000 people currently using the app, Airfox is looking to build on its success. “By the end of 2018, the Airfox team hopes to have over more than 200,000 people using the app to make purchases and transactions online and offline easier,” says Sedat. “Later in 2018, the team will open its peer-to-peer lending platform to beta users to fund loans to cohorts of borrowers in the Airfox app.”

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Keywords : Blockchain , Fintech , Digital payments/Wallet , Bank Products & Services

Geography : Brazil , USA