Machine Learning for More Equitable Credit Powers Airfox-ZestFinance Partnership

New machine learning credit scoring system expected to increase access for the underbanked in emerging markets

Airfox, a startup providing transformative financial services to emerging markets, today announced a partnership with artificial intelligence (AI) leader ZestFinance and Brazilian retail giant Via Varejo to deliver a new microcredit model with next-generation algorithmic infrastructure predicated on more equitable credit risk analysis. Combining machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics to extend credit opportunity to underserved populations without incurring greater risk, this partnership will allow Airfox and Via Varejo to capitalize on a significant market opportunity that is ripe for disruption.

Airfox’s new partnership with ZestFinance will allow both companies to capitalize on a significant market opportunity prime for disruption.
Airfox’s digital challenger bank, banQi, is designed to transform the lives of over 50 million Brazilians shut out of traditional banking institutions through intuitive and affordable financial services.

Innovating for financial inclusion

With current credit concentrated and weighted with exceptionally high rates, financial service cost for Brazilian consumers and small businesses is one of the highest in the world. According to The Wall Street Journal, five banks control 82% of the country’s consumer credit and “many Brazilians don’t have a credit history that lenders can access to gauge individual risk and lower rates to clients with higher scores.” As the eighth-largest economy in the world, Brazil’s potential is enormous, but there’s also an enormous service gap. An innovative process that is more inclusive and supplies greater access to credit will foster growth and bridge that gap.

The partnership will help gather more data for future integration of loans within banQi’s financial services.

Leveraging tech for better financial services

With the partnership of both ZestFinance and Via Varejo, Airfox’s banQi is positioned to combine new credit risk technology, a variety of alternative data sources, and immense data and distribution synergies to safely bring credit to millions of Brazilians. According to Goldman Sachs, banking services, payments, lending, and insurance represents US$15.9 billion (BRL$60 billion) in estimated annual revenue potential in 10 years for emerging fintechs.

Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance

About Airfox

Airfox is on a mission to accelerate financial inclusion for the underbanked within emerging economies. Airfox aims to create an entirely new financial services model for the underbanked that democratizes access to capital and financial services with a mobile-first solution. 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

About Via Varejo

Via Varejo is one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in Brazil and the world, responsible for operating physical stores and e-commerce sites under the Casas Bahia, Pontofrio, and Extra brands. Founded in 2010 as Globex Utilities SA and officially named Via Varejo SA in 2012, the company is present in more than 400 cities and 20 states and the Federal District, with about 1,000 physical stores, 26 distribution centers, and about 50,000 employees across the country. In 2018, net sales reached R$ 26.9 billion. The company has traded on the BM & FBOVESPA since 2013.

About ZestFinance

ZestFinance helps lenders use machine learning to develop and launch highly accurate and transparent credit risk models. Zest’s software tools enable our clients to increase revenue, reduce risk, and ensure compliance. ZestFinance was founded in 2009 by Douglas Merrill, the former CIO of Google, and a team of former Google employees with the mission of making fair and transparent credit available to everyone. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. For more information, visit Contact ZestFinance at

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