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This Entrepreneur Is Working To Improve Financial Inclusion With Blockchain
Using blockchain technology and data science, Victor Santos, the CEO and co-founder of Airfox, is working to improve financial inclusion for the 1.8 billion people living on the planet without access to traditional banking services–a prerequisite to truly emerging from poverty.
Interview with Victor Santos, the CEO and co-founder of Airfox.
The following is the pre-interview with Victor Santos. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
We’ll be discussing Financial inequality:
Low-income individuals constitute the majority of the “unbanked” who do not have accounts at deposit institutions and lack access to mainstream financial services. Globally, 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked. These people often have no choice but to rely on high-fee payday lenders, check-cashing stores, and other expensive alternatives to manage their money. with Victor Santos.
How are you personally affected by Financial inequality?
As a young boy in Brazil, I witnessed the hardships of financial exclusion. I remember my mother coming to me, when I was 10 years old, to ask whether she could “borrow” my golden necklace, a gift that had been handed down through the generations. Of course I said yes, because I knew my family needed the money. Pawn shops were (and still are) one of the very few ways low-income people in Brazil can access loans. In fact, the pawn shop provided more accessible and better-quality loans than conventional banks. I also recall my parents defaulting on cheque especial (a type of overdraft loan) owing to the predatory 300%+ APR. Little did I know that these moments would inspire my passion for financial inclusion.
What is your take on Financial inequality?
There are more than four billion people living in poverty who cannot escape the daily grind of subsistence. Those at the bottom of the economic pyramid struggle to meet their most basic needs, yet like anyone, they work hard and want a better life for themselves or their children. But to pay 300%+ APR on loans is simply impossible. How can the poor invest in education or innovation to improve their lives or communities if traditional financial institutions stand in their way?
Airfox believes that barriers to financial inclusion can be torn down by technology. Airfox is working to accelerate financial inclusion for the world’s underbanked by:
Using best-in-breed mobile and blockchain technologies as well as cutting-edge data science to provide financial services for the underbanked at a fraction of the costs extracted by traditional providers;
Leveraging transactional data to create a credit-scoring algorithm that, combined with such smartphone data as GPS history, is expected to perform identity verification and generate personalized credit scores;
Building a web-based, peer-to-peer lending application that uses cryptocurrency and blockchain to source a global pool for micro-financiers and investors.
More about Airfox:
Airfox seeks to provide access to financial services for the nearly four billion unbanked people around the world. In February 2018, Airfox launched its free mobile app in Brazil, where more than half of young people do not have bank accounts; exorbitant fees and interest rates along with cumbersome bureaucracies make banking nearly impossible. The Airfox app all but eliminates the need for traditional financial institutions. For the first time, people in emerging markets can access more affordable, inclusive financial services using only their smartphones. The startup is now focused on significantly expanding its footprint and recently signed a strategic partnership with a national retail giant to extend its mobile financial services to 60 million consumers.
Victor Santos. Photo Credit: Airfox
Victor Santos’s bio:
A dedicated social entrepreneur, Victor Santos is on a mission to make financial services accessible to underserved populations around the world. Victor is an ex-Googler, UC Berkeley alum, and telecom entrepreneur. He co-founded Airfox in 2016 to advance the cause of financial inclusion for the billions of unbanked and underbanked people in emerging markets around the globe.
Victor’s career began in VoIP at iWorldServices, where he opened their LatAM division. He then co-founded Ciao Telecom and launched a platform for VoIP entrepreneurs plus an advertising-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). After growing Ciao Telecom to achieve tens of millions in revenue, he joined Google to work on product development and marketing for the AdWords agencies program. Victor has been recognized by MIT Technology Review as a 2018 Innovator Under 35 and by Forbes as a 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur.
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