Airfox teams with Mastercard and Zurich Insurance in digital banking service expansion
Boston fintech startup secures new strategic partnerships valued over $77 million
Airfox, a startup providing transformative financial services to emerging markets, today announced a partnership with Mastercard Brazil that vastly extends the availability of affordable and cost-free banking solutions with 1% cashback to customers. Building its digital challenger bank built on the principles of financial inclusion and trust, Airfox has secured three additional major partnerships — Mastercard, Cielo, and Zurich Insurance — that expand on its existing partnership with Brazil retail giant Via Varejo. The new Airfox contracts exceed US$77 million (BRL$300 million).
“By combining Via Varejo’s expertise in financial services with Airfox’s advanced technology, we are able to offer our customers even more ease and convenience,” said Felipe Negrão, chief financial officer, Via Varejo. “With Airfox, we are developing financial solutions that add value to deliver a seamless experience for banQi customers.”
Targeting emerging economies, Airfox is successfully executing on a mission to shift the financial paradigm toward greater inclusion with banQi, it’s free and flexible Brazillian banking service designed to accommodate every socioeconomic status. Leveraging new partnerships with Mastercard, Cielo, and Zurich Insurance, Airfox is enhancing and extending banQi functionality to provide greater financial services access to enormous and chronically underserved populations in Brazil.
Airfox worked with strategic partner Via Varejo, a leading Brazilian retailer, to evolve its digital wallet into a challenger bank announced on June 5, 2019. According to Reuters: “Stocks in Sao Paulo climbed 0.6% on broad-based gains last week. Electronics and appliance retailer Via Varejo was the top gainer, up 4%, after it launched a digital bank on Wednesday targeting low-income clients in partnership with Boston-based startup Airfox.”
In partnership with Mastercard Brazil, banQi clients will have access to digital and physical prepaid cards that can be used for online and offline purchases. Unlike traditional debit and credit cards, customers can qualify for banQi without a formal credit history and do not need to open a bank account at a brick-and-mortar establishment. Available fall 2019, the Airfox Mastercard feature will also make cash more conveniently accessible by allowing banQi clients to withdraw cash directly from most ATMs in Brazil.
“This strategic partnership with Airfox provides not only convenience and secure transactions, but also financial and digital inclusion for a portion of the population that doesn’t have access to financial and digital services,” said João Pedro Paro Neto, president of South America and Brazil, Mastercard.
Later this year, Airfox’s digital challenger bank will be available in all 800+ Casas Bahia stores across Brazil. banQi clients will have the ability to deposit and withdraw money at any of Via Varejo’s Casas Bahia stores located in 400 cities. The Airfox cash-back Mastercard provides users with an easy and straightforward way to recoup 1% of everything they buy. To help banQi clients build savings effortlessly, customers also will earn cashback on money stored in their banQi digital wallets.
“At present, those without bank accounts face daily financial challenges,” said Victor Santos, chief executive officer and founder, Airfox. “Generally, the poorer you are, the more you pay for financial services and the less access you have to wealth-building instruments. Today’s largely digital world presents an opportunity to balance that inequity — and banQi services represent a leap in the right direction.”
Mobile payment partnership
This week Airfox also launched its partnership with Cielo, Latin America’s largest credit and debit payment processor that covers 99% of Brazilian territory. The partnership with Cielo enables banQi clients to pay for purchases via mobile device using QR codes. “For Cielo, this is a big step in our mission to be more inclusive,” said Paulo Caffarelli, president, Cielo. “The QR code acts as a barcode, which banQi users can scan with their smartphones to pay for purchases instantly.”
The banQi platform integrates with more than 1.2 million convenient Cielo point-of-sale (POS) locations in stores and retailers across Brazil. In addition to simplifying payments, banQi also offers cashback on purchases made via Cielo QR codes. “Providing convenience and choice to the financially underserved is in our Airfox DNA,” said Gustavo Ribeiro, president of Brazil, Airfox. “With the Cielo partnership, Airfox is giving our clients instant access to more than one million merchants all over the country.”
Accessible insurance for emerging economies
“This opportunity sets the stage for Airfox to supply customers with an innovative way to purchase insurance via the banQi mobile application, allowing more people to access and benefit from insurance services,” said Douglas Lopes, global financial advisor, Airfox.
Zurich Insurance, one of the world’s largest and most progressive insurers, already holds a multi-year partnership with Via Varejo to bring a diverse portfolio of digital insurance products to banQi customers — such as lending insurance, unemployment insurance, mobile phone insurance, and life insurance. With growth-enabling regulation increasing insurance penetration in emerging markets, Airfox seized on the opportunity to extend a social safety net for its banQi community.
“Insurance is extremely important to safeguard the material achievements of individuals in this segment, and the digital platform will help broaden the reach to that sort of protection,” said Edson Franco, chief executive officer of Brazil, Zurich Insurance.
banQi: The digital challenger bank for all Brazilians
In Brazil, anywhere from 10–25% or more of an average person’s income can go towards banking-related expenses every month. To accelerate financial inclusion, Airfox aims to provide an array of financial services at a fraction of the cost of traditional banks, using three complementary core technology pillars: blockchain, machine learning, and mobile. banQi is intended to provide free and simple financial services to all Brazilians.
banQi is the only digital bank in Brazil launching 1,000 offline physical “bank branches” in Casas Bahia stores to reach the underserved in local communities. With 80,000 downloads of the Airfox app via Google Play prior to banQi rollout, Airfox has successfully differentiated itself from competitors by establishing global and hyperlocal partnerships that conveniently integrate Airfox into the day-to-day lives of its customers (with more coming soon). Over the next six months, Airfox plans to grow its teams in both Boston and Brazil to execute on its mission of providing high-quality, no-cost financial services to millions of Brazilians.
“These high-impact partnerships and accessible service enhancements represent strategic milestones toward achieving our goal of extending financial inclusion to millions globally,” added Victor Santos. “Today Brazil, tomorrow the rest of Latin America.”
Airfox is on a mission to provide the roughly 4 billion unbanked and financially underserved individuals in emerging markets mobile access to financial services. Airfox aims to create an entirely new financial services model that serves the underbanked with reliable, egalitarian, and democratic access to capital and financial services. Airfox is a venture-backed, financial technology company based in Boston and São Paulo. To learn more about the future of decentralized digital banking, visit www.airfox.com.
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