Airfox transforms mobile finance in emerging markets with blockchain and machine learning
Boston-based fintech startup releases updated vision for AirToken to solve critical financial problems
Nov. 16, 2018 (BOSTON) — Airfox, a startup aiming to provide critical financial services to emerging markets, is setting historic milestones for cryptocurrency and real-world blockchain adoption. AirToken (symbol: AIR), an ERC-20 token issued on the Ethereum blockchain, may become one of the first registered tokens in the United States in 2019.
During the Airfox initial coin offering (ICO), nearly 2,500 AirToken purchasers contributed to the development of an entirely new financial platform to empower the two-thirds globally who are not equitably or reliably served by traditional banking services. Airfox was the first venture-backed startup to successfully complete an ICO in the United States and secured the largest ICO to be held by a Boston company.
“Using blockchain and other emerging technologies, Airfox plans to open up new opportunities for the underserved who do not currently have reliable, egalitarian, non-exploitative access to capital and financial services,” said Victor Santos, CEO and co-founder, Airfox. “We believe new institutional demand and mainstream adoption for blockchain applications will come.”
Driving mainstream adoption
2018 was a year for building the foundation, launching the initial version of the Airfox mobile wallet application, handling regulatory issues, and developing the right partnerships to successfully drive mainstream adoption and attract dynamic partners that will drive user scale and institutional capital for the AirToken financial blockchain platform.
In February 2018, Airfox successfully launched its Android app, bringing much-needed payment and financing solutions to unbanked and underbanked Brazilians in the form of a stored value mobile wallet. Aiming to be the “Alipay meets LendingClub” of Brazil with a blockchain twist, Airfox wants to enable a full mobile banking and financing solution for the underbanked through a decentralized peer-to-peer system. Out of nearly 210 million individuals, approximately two-thirds of Brazil’s population are underbanked and operate in mainly a cash-based economy, according to the World Bank. Airfox has already empowered nearly 15,000 people access to engage freely in the digital economy. At over 250,000 locations users can add cash into the app. Airfox users conduct digital transactions on their mobile phones, quickly making payments for cell service, public transportation, utility bills, as well as many online and offline goods and services. Airfox supports Brazil’s national Boleto Bancario payment method, and sending money between users is instant and free.
In the app, users in Brazil can earn AirTokens by watching sponsored advertising. So far in less than six months, 1,131,359 advertisements have been viewed awarding 565,679.5 AirTokens to users, and 487,096.5 AirTokens have been converted into Brazilian Reals. The Airfox team is planning to build additional AirToken-earning features into the app including referrals and rewards for transactions and engagement, like airline rewards on credit cards.
In September 2018, Airfox signed a strategic partnership with Brazilian retail giant Via Varejo and is now preparing to deploy its digital banking platform in its Casas Bahia stores. With 50 million customers in 767 Casas Bahia stores and its e-commerce site, this exclusive partnership sets the stage for mass adoption of Airfox payment and financing solutions. Via Varejo is also one of the leading creditors for the unbanked and underbanked holding over $1B in consumer loan portfolio per year. To continue expanding access, Airfox plans to launch its iOS app in 2019.
“While in Brazil, my team met an inspiring, hard-working woman named Elaine. She serves as the personification of the people we want to help. She pays over 22% of her income, not including extra fees, for simple banking services,” Santos said. “This means she still has to travel long distances to spend hours standing in lines, while missing work to pay her bills and manage her finances.”
Developing inclusive financial services powered by blockchain
Credit cards charge extremely high-interest rates in Brazil, sometimes exceeding 400% APR. The two reasons why traditional banks fail the billions of people that need them the most. First, many people who operate in a mainly cash-based economy have little financial history, which makes them very risky borrowers through banks’ legacy credit models. Therefore, it’s very expensive for banks to administer loans and other financial services, and to keep them profitable. Banks pass those expenses to the borrowers in the form of high interest and fees. Brazil’s financial system is restricted by centralization and unfair to the underprivileged and underserved. Blockchain is a breakthrough that could allow for a truly open, safe, and fair financial system.
Instead of relying on archaic risk assessment tools and having expensive operating costs, Airfox plans to disrupt the traditional financial networks by providing cheaper access to capital for millions of people. By collecting hundreds of data points from the users’ transactions and mobile usage patterns, Airfox plans to use machine learning to create a dynamic credit model that enables it to provide more affordable loans and better assess the risk of users. In parallel, Airfox aims to build a platform that enables people from around the world to fund these loans using AirToken.
In the Airfox lending platform, Airfox plans to assume the role of the Underwriter, and facilitate requests for loans from users who apply via the Airfox app. The Airfox credit scoring algorithms should determine the users’ loan risks and interest rates. Once a user qualifies, Airfox plans to issue their debt in a tokenized smart contract as an ERC721 Non-Fungible Token representing the loan note. The note would then be held or traded on a secondary market.
Looking towards 2019 and beyond, Airfox expects to be moving on a path of accelerated growth. Its expected roadmap includes strategic partnerships that expand the functionality of the app, along with increasing the user base. Airfox plans to roll out new features that remove financial barriers and provide opportunities to build wealth, including asset-backed securitized tokens, investment opportunities, loans, and other diversified financial products.
Airfox aims to license the whole platform, or portions of it, as an open-source platform so other companies, individuals, and developers can further build on its vision in other emerging markets.
The complete Airfox white paper, which details the company’s expected roadmap, is available here.
Airfox develops inclusive financial services for emerging markets. To break down financial barriers and provide opportunities to build wealth, 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. To power its revolutionary peer-to-peer microloans program, Airfox developed and released its own cryptocurrency, AirToken (symbol: AIR), an ERC-20 token issued on the Ethereum blockchain. Airfox has offices in Boston and São Paulo. To learn more about the future of decentralized digital banking, visit www.airfox.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements of the Company that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements can be identified by the use of the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “target,” “potential,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “continue,” and similar expressions. The forward-looking statements in this press release represent the Company’s views as of the date of this press release. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause its views to change. However, while it may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, it has no current intention of doing so except to the extent required by applicable law. You should, therefore, not rely on these forward-looking statements as representing the Company’s views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement.