AirFox is the company seeking to make the mobile internet more affordable for millions of people. In October, 2017 it announced it had reached its $15 million funding goal. It then closed its public ICO after some 2,500 backers contributed to fund the development of AirFox’s blockchain consumer platform, AirToken (AIR), along with a microloans program.
By unlocking emerging markets’ ‘dead mobile capital’, the AIR project aims to provide the underserved masses with greater access to capital and affordable mobile internet. In effect, AIR is a utility token funded ‘by the people, for the people’.
“We look forward to developing AIR to its fullest extent in order to enable a new blockchain-based mobile ecosystem in the developing world,” said Victor Santos, AirFox’s Co-Founder and CEO. “Almost half of the world’s population is unable to access the internet and another 2 billion are excluded from financial and banking systems due to poor infrastructure, archaic systems and high costs. This means much of the developing world is deprived of the educational, commercial, and social benefits associated with capital and mobile access. The AirToken system provides greater access to capital at cheaper rates, expands access to mobile capital through prepaid wireless accounts, and improves the lives of those in the underserved, lower socioeconomic classes.”
AirFox and its developing world rationale
In the developing world, mobile airtime (or data) functions as a currency. The success of mobile phone-based money transfer services – like M-Pesa – highlights the need for banking options that fit the unique needs of users in emerging markets.
By incorporating blockchain technology into mobile phone-based money transferring, AirFox seeks to add a level of financing, security and reliability previously unachievable. Using AirFox’s Android application, thousands of quantifiable data points can be tracked and analyzed to create accurate ‘credit scores.’ These credit scores will segment users into tranches, allowing lenders and advertisers to sponsor AirTokens through an Ethereum smart-contract.
AirToken and blockchain
The AirToken blockchain unlocks mobile access by connecting mobile airtime sponsors – advertisers and lenders – to prepaid mobile subscribers in emerging markets. AirFox’s free browser app enables prepaid mobile customers to earn AirTokens. These can convert into mobile airtime.
Users establish credit history by opting to share their device data and advertising behavior. This enables anyone with a smartphone to apply for and receive microloans in AirTokens.
AirFox’s objective is to pursue unrestricted access to the internet for anyone with a prepaid smartphone. Its free Android app, AirFox Browser, users to earn AirTokens, a new cryptocurrency. They earn AirTokens by viewing advertisements on their devices, completing offers, and browsing the internet. AirTokens are then redeemed for mobile data and, eventually, goods and services.
In addition, AirFox will use the ICO funds raised to develop a microloans program. Its purpose is to open up peer-to-peer lending, via AirTokens, at more affordable rates.
Amy Spurling, ex-COO & CFO of Jana and current AirFox advisor said: “Emerging markets rely on smartphones not only as a form of connectivity, but also as the primary method of banking for most of the prepaid population. AirFox is going beyond just raising money; it is demonstrating at its core the power of blockchain technology and its ability help those around the world gain access to information and banking.”
What does it mean
This is a potential example of how to add value in the developing world to the uniquity of smartphones. The concept is ingenious and the notion that end users (of smartphones) can earn and then spend AirTokens as well as establish a credit history must be welcome.
That said, the blockchain connection is unclear (not for the first time). It may well be that the AirToken exploits blockchain technology, but there is minimal immediate evidence from the AirToken white paper which says (worthily) “AirFox will transform and shift transactions from cash, offline mechanisms and an underground economy to a decentralized mobile system that formalizes a digital blockchain technology (AIR), removes dead mobile capital and expands the pie by generating additional leverage using pre-paid accounts, advertising sharing and proprietary user “return grades” intended for internal AirFox purposes.
“AIR will create a formal ledger of transactions using blockchain and an ecosystem for carriers, advertisers, and publishers to connect to prepaid subscribers more efficiently and unlock each subscriber’s individual “dead” mobile capital.”
This is a start but to be certain requires greater evidence. An the hope is apparent.