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Brazilian retailer, Via Varejo, acquires fintech Airfox

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – More often than not, it’s banks that buy out fintechs. But this time around it’s a little different. Brazilian retailer Via Varejo acquired fintech Airfox for an undisclosed amount.

The pair made the announcement last Friday (22) and as part of the deal, there were a few executive switcharoos. Via Varejo’s Financial Director, Andre Calabro, will become CEO of Airfox. Meanwhile the fintech’s former CEO, Victor Santos, will assume the role of Chief Strategy Officer.

From its headquarters in Boston, Airfox will operate as a fintech hub for Via Varejo.

Via Varejo and Airfox’s budding relationship

Brazilian-born Victor Santos co-founded Airfox with Sara Choi in 2016. The startup aimed to develop products that tendered to the oft-ignored unbanked population of Brazil. The fintech’s revenue came primarily from the interest rates it charged for the microloans it offered.

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Then in September 2018, it partnered with Via Varejo to develop and launch “banQi,” a banking app. The product led to promising results and reached 1 million downloads during the first quarter of 2020, Airfox stated in a press release. This numbers game also extended to the number of transactions processed through the app.

“[We also] saw a 300 percent increase in use of bill payments and 117 percent increase in use for Casas Bahia CDC carnês, which are in-store loans used to purchase large-ticket items like furniture, electronics, and appliances,” reported Andre Calabro.

Note that the owners of Via Varejo also have a controlling stake in Casas Bahia. Or simply put, the banQi app led to more sales for the retailer. Unsurprisingly, the app will be further integrated into Via Varejo’s operations.

The acquisition represents an interesting case wherein a consumer-goods vendor is expanding into territory traditionally hogged by the finance industry. 

This just goes to show that as fintech apps continue to gain traction, other players don’t want to miss out on that action. Especially if it can compliment and lead to more revenue streams for their other operations.

Related articles: Tech and startups from Brazil!


Mariana López
My topic darlings are startup management, edtech, and all-things pop culture. J Balvin is Latin America's best reggaetonero and I dare you to convince me otherwise.


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