Airfox announces new mobile banking brand in Brazil

Airfox scaling its new mobile banking services in partnership with Brazilian retail giant

6 min readJun 6, 2019


Thank you for your support as Airfox continues to lead the charge to disrupt traditional banking models. To accelerate financial inclusion, we aim to provide an array of financial services at a fraction of the cost of traditional banks, using three complementary core technology pillars, including blockchain, machine learning, and mobile.

Slide from a presentation Via Varejo gave to the Market last year.

Blockchain tapping into underserved markets

The ubiquity of smartphones and new innovative technologies are revolutionizing finance at a swift pace. Technologies such as mobile, digital-first banking solutions, machine learning, and blockchain especially impact the 4 billion+ people around the world who remain underbanked and unbanked. Generally, the poorer you are, the more you pay for financial services and the less access you have to wealth building instruments.

The current archaic paradigm is now being disrupted by FinTechs that are customer-focused, driving real user value, not profits. This insurgency and innovation in financial services technology provide a new opportunity to serve the users that need it the most: those in the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid.

Airfox’s strategy transforms the traditional banking model.

Fighting for fairness

Brazil’s Central Bank has changed financial regulations to allow new entrants, stimulate competition, and create a better financial ecosystem. Today, the top five banks in Brazil hold oligopolistic power, with over 90% market share of all financial services. On the other hand, FinTech companies, or digital alternative lenders, underwrite only 0.03% of all credit in Brazil.

Traditional banks’ strong position in the market has allowed them to get away with murder when it comes to experience and support. Banks in Brazil have strict hours (10am-4pm weekdays), long-lines, and branches often located far from the poorest neighborhoods. Customers have a hard time paying their bills and managing their finances due to the time wasted dealing with this unfair banking system.

The use of socioeconomic elitism has been the default in Brazil for decades. Adding to the massive amounts of bureaucracy and mistreatment of poorer customers, the overall costs surrounding accounts are astronomical. To put it into perspective, the cost for members within our target audience to maintain a bank account can range as high as 15% of their monthly income.

The fees only get worse when we consider credit. Credit is inaccessible for many Brazilians. Approval rates are abysmally low and APRs predatorily high, edging 400%. Affordable access to capital remains the most effective way for socioeconomic development.

To achieve our goals, earlier today Airfox and our partner, Brazilian retail giant Via Varejo unveiled the next evolution of the Airfox app.

Meet banQi — Airfox app evolution to a new mobile banking service

Airfox’s new mobile banking brand in Brazil.

With banQi, we’re aiming to provide free and simple financial services for everyday use. We evolved the Airfox app into a new and more Brazilian-friendly brand. banQi represents what it means to break down financial barriers in Brazil, enabling us to satisfy the financial needs of our target audience in the C, D, and E social classes.

Airfox tries to always put the customer first in product development. Back in 2018, we conducted focus groups and learned what people in our target audience thought about the name “Airfox”. They associated it with cars because of the Volkswagen Fox, instead of financial services. People also told us they were confused by the combination of two random English words, and everyone had difficulty pronouncing the word “Airfox”.

Working with GAD, a top branding agency in Brazil, we developed banQi, the digital bank that values you as you are. banQi is like a bank, but different. Q is short for “que” in Portuguese and used in many interrogative sentences.

That’s exactly what Airfox is doing with banQi! We’re asking the Brazilian financial system, “Why does banking have to be expensive and exclusive?” We are giving every Brazilian the opportunity to choose how they want to access their money.

Convenience is key with banQi

banQi is not exclusively a mobile financial service; we’re setting ourselves apart from the digital challenger banks in Brazil. Thanks to our partnership with Via Varejo, our users will be able to walk into any one of the almost 1,000 Casas Bahia stores for in-person help. Their locations are used as “branches” to assist users if they would like interaction outside of the app. With this launch, we’re starting the evolution from a digital payment wallet to a challenger bank. Future plans include the roll out of a prepaid debit card with eventual micro-credit functionality and instant cash back on purchases.

Also rolling out with the new brand, users can now use their balance to make purchases at any of the 1 million+ merchants with Cielo POS devices. See how it works here.

What does banQi mean for AirToken?

As a member of this community, AirToken holders are part of this trailblazing effort to accelerate inclusion for the billions of people who have not had the opportunity to experience a fair financial system. We are proud to be starting with the 120 million underbanked Brazilians.

Many of the other financial service companies in crypto are focusing on abstract and elusive protocol-level innovations before concerning themselves with real world applications. Other crypto lenders are focused on applications often revolving around sophisticated crypto, which doesn’t solve for the real problem of mass adoption with underbanked low-income users.

Airfox believes that before blockchain can have ubiquity in payments, lending, and decentralizing finance, progress must be made in core protocol technology, industry development and financial regulations. We don’t believe in waiting for these things to catch up before building a customer base and a compliant regulatory framework.

At Airfox, we’re not waiting. Instead, we are focusing on creating consumer value and complying with regulators. We are building scale at the app level first, and then augmenting our financial services with the Airtoken blockchain core.

Linear progression

To expand our peer-to-peer lending platform, we need a user base that trusts us as their main financial service provider so we have enough data points to improve our loan underwriting process. During this time, we plan to assume the initial capital risk using our own balance sheet.

Once we achieve close-to-positive return on equity and feel more confident in our processes, we plan to start providing token-holders first access to invest in these potentially high-yielding microloans in the AirToken peer-to-peer lending platform. If this works, Airfox will be able to provide borrowers lower cost loans while creating new high-yield asset classes for lenders. Today these assets are only available for big banks, hedge funds, or private equity firms. All of this is described in the AirToken white paper.

AirToken lenders and credible financial institutions will only be able to trust us to disperse and invest when we can show that Airfox has achieved positive ROE underwriting loans from its own balance sheet. This has to be done under a compliant and regulated legal framework.

We believe that decentralized finance is the future of banking services. Airfox is paving the way for other companies to follow. We’re aiming to create a new kind of decentralized and credible peer-to-peer micro-lending platform.

A new look for Airfox, too

To go along with the beautiful banQi brand, we’ve polished Airfox, too. Check it out!

Over the next few days, we look forward to sharing with you more information on the process of this evolution. Join us on Telegram!




Accelerate financial inclusion in emerging markets using technology built with trust and inclusion.