Despite progress fighting poverty, South America’s largest economy is still plagued by vast income inequality. When the country’s national museum went up in flames this year, many Brazilians expressed this as a metaphor for their own struggles.
Restoring fiscal sustainability is one of the most pressing economic challenge for Brazil. The average income of Brazilian citizens has increased only 0.7% per year since the mid-1990s, which is one-tenth of the rate of increase in China. 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.
As the Airfox team approached the halfway point of our trip, we left the densely populated streets of Rocinha feeling inspired after hearing how Airfox has improved the lives of our users, including taxi-driver Robson, and small business-owner Dominique. We ventured west through the Serra da Bocaina National Park to São Paulo’s Itaquera district. With a population of just over 200,000 people, we were mesmerized by the amount of modern infrastructure within the neighborhood.
Itaquera has a completely different landscape than Rocinha. Itaquera is located in Zona Leste — the east side — of Sao Paulo and is described as a suburb that is, more modern due to governmental improvements. Itaquera is more spacious compared to the stacks of houses in Rocinha, but it can be hard to get to. With a car and no traffic, you must drive 45+ minutes to the city center and with public transport, it’s easily a 2 hour commute.
As we approach the city, we made our way to the apartment of airline representative, student, and Airfox user, Eliane.
Eliane spends countless hours standing in lines and missing work to pay her bills and manage her finances. She pays over 22% of her income, not including extra fees, on simple banking services. If she ever needed a loan (for a medical emergency, to buy her father a gift, or to start a business), banks would charge her interest rates as high as 400% APR. The Airfox mobile wallet replaces the need for a bank and provides Eliane with easy, free, and instant access to everyday purchases and payment options.
With Airfox, “I gain time in my day,” Eliane told us.
Primarily working out of her home office, Eliane’s hectic work schedule does not always allow her to leave. Because emerging markets like Brazil still largely require customers to pay bills in-person, Eliane faced a massive time burden. By downloading the Airfox app, Eliane is now easily able to pay her bills on-time and in the comfort of her home, without compromising her work. She relies on the Airfox app because it keeps up with her on the go lifestyle and helps to achieve her dream of finishing a graduate degree.
The Airfox platform also helps Eliane comfortably navigate the streets of São Paulo. Utilizing the app, Eliane no longer needs to carry an abundance of cash or wait in the lines at the subway station to increase the balance on her metrocard. Thanks to Airfox, she can complete these transactions on the go and gain time back in her day.
Eliane shared with us that she truly believes Airfox can be the solution for her financial challenges and help pay for her degree. She explained that before Airfox, her applications for school loans would be halted at numerous bureaucratic checkpoints, like providing proof of income. With the expected Airfox microloans program launches in 2019, Eliane looks forward to applying for an Airfox microloan through our convenient app, which unlike Brazilian banks, considers non-traditional factors like GPS location to determine loan risk. In just a few days, Eliane could be approved for a loan.
“Airfox is a practical app and it’s fast. For me, it’s perfect,” said Eliane.
The Airfox digital wallet has helped many people just like Eliane increase productivity and pursue their dreams. The app provides users with a path towards financial inclusion. Because our platform leverages mobile, blockchain, and machine learning, Airfox expects to reach more people and offer lower costs than traditional financial infrastructures with more secure transactions. It is because of stories like Eliane’s that the Airfox team is dedicated to serving those at the bottom of the pyramid with an alternative, democratized financial system.
Airfox is disrupting age-old obstacles to economic mobility. By providing free mobile banking services with easier and more affordable access to capital, Airfox plans to help narrow the wealth gap between the rich and poor. The complete Airfox white paper, which details the company’s expected roadmap, is available here.
Check us out on:
About the author
As VP of Marketing Katie Sedat is focused on building the Airfox brand internationally and growing awareness. She comes to Airfox with over a decade of experience marketing a wide-range of consumer products. Katie is a graduate of Emerson College, and most recently led user acquisition for the mCent app at Jana Mobile, building a user base of over 32 million. She has managed consumer marketing efforts throughout Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.