It’s safe to say that, for most people, 2020 felt like a whole decade crammed into one year. Looking back on the past 12 months for Airfox really drives the point home.
This year marked our fourth anniversary as a company and we kicked off January 2020 with some impressive milestones. World Finance Magazine selected banQi, our inclusive mobile banking platform, as the Best Consumer Bank and Best Mobile App in Brazil. Our development team added some fantastic new features to banQi, making it even easier and less expensive for Brazilians to access their money and build wealth. On top of that, our founder’s personal essay was published in The Boston Globe and we were selected as finalists for the 2020 SXSW Innovation Awards.
By the start of February, we already felt we’d accomplished a year’s worth of progress as a team — who could have known what the rest of the year would hold in store for all of us!
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, Airfox teams shifted to working-from-home, but continued our development and user-experience-focused design efforts. We also continued growing our ranks and advancing our mission to democratize financial services and establish greater social, economic, and digital inclusion. Our persistence was rewarded when Airfox was recognized as a finalist in the LATAM category of the World Changing Ideas award by Fast Company in April.
But our biggest corporate news of the year went public on May 22, when it was announced that Airfox was being acquired by Via Varejo.
Via Varejo financial director Andrew Calabro underscored Airfox’s innovation foresight and banQi’s popular appeal at the time: “In the first quarter of this year, we achieved a 100% increase in new banQi accounts. We marked 1 million downloads of the banQi app, and saw a 300% increase in use of bill payments and 117% increase in use for Casas Bahia CDC carnês, which are in-store loans used to purchase large-ticket items like furniture, electronics, and appliances.”
As the pandemic-fueled need for contactless payment options escalated, so did our focus on serving our customers. In July, we charted 93% user growth month-over-month and released an iOS version of banQi for iPhone users.
In August, we were beyond proud to see banQi become one of the top-rated digital accounts on the esteemed ReclameAQUI consumer-protection site in Brazil, where we earned RA1000 certification for customer service quality — a designation held by only 308 of 260,000 rated companies.
By November, we were spotting passing reference to Airfox in unrelated media stories citing our research and banQi’s potential to transform digital finance, cementing a transition from getting noticed as a scrappy startup to being recognized as mobile banking leaders.
As the year draws to a close, we recognize that it’s been a really tough 12 months for the whole world — our staff, partners, and customers included.
The 2020 achievements of Airfox pale in comparison to the sustained heroism of healthcare professionals globally and the amazing level of medical innovation that may help end the pandemic soon.
But in looking forward to a more hopeful future free from the scourge of coronavirus, it’s uplifting to look back on all that our company has been able to accomplish in spite of it.