In an era defined by its digital nature, Airtm stands at the forefront of economic innovation. Eight years since its inception, Airtm has redefined what it means to enable financial freedom in unstable economies across Latin America.
Web 2.0 platforms and cross border payments catalyzed a thriving digital economy. Every day more income-generating opportunities surface online creating more opportunities. Millions are already thriving as digital entrepreneurs i.e. freelancers, microtaskers, retail investors, content creators, gamers, online merchants among many other occupations. Rising internet penetration, relatively low salary expectations, and the ease with which one can learn a trade online have also made it easier for people in our region to join the online workforce. People throughout the developing world, let alone Latin Americans, no longer have to conform to the opportunities their country can offer. They can take charge of their financial stability and security simply by going online.
Airtm began with a retail wallet, expanded to cross border payment disbursement as a way to help Latin Americans earn money in a way that worked for them.Today, the company aims to catalyze the region’s journey to financial independence.
Originating from an idea birthed at a bitcoin startup, Uphold, in San Francisco, Airtm’s mission took flight amidst Argentina’s severe hyperinflation and currency controls. The people of Argentina, well-acquainted with the “blue (black) dollar market,” were fast to embrace bitcoin and the famous LocalBitcoins platform as an alternative. Identifying an opportunity, Airtm was launched in July 2015, offering a simple dollar account coupled with a peer-to-peer dollar trading marketplace.
While Airtm made strides in Argentina, it was in Venezuela where the company truly flourished. The country’s severe economic restrictions and high inflation drove massive user sign-ups, and by 2017, Airtm’s exchange rate became the most popular in the country. Despite being targeted by the Venezuelan government and having to navigate physical threats, Airtm persevered and continued to expand beyond distressed economies.
After establishing itself in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, Airtm began to reflect on its broader impact. Recognizing the hurdles presented by low wages and growing unemployment, Airtm questioned: could they also provide a solution to these pressing issues?
Today, around one-third of Latin Americans live below the poverty line. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow to the region, causing the economy to contract an average of 7%, with over 34 million jobs lost. Increasing political instability has further fueled migration flows, with data from 2020 indicating that over 32 million Latin Americans live outside their country of origin.
Faced with these realities, Airtm is determined to change the narrative. It proposes a solution rooted in financial independence through the digital economy, negating the need to depend on local governments for job creation or to migrate in search of employment.
The digital economy presents a wealth of opportunities for Latin Americans. Driven by Web 2.0 platforms and cross-border payments, an ever-expanding array of online income-generating opportunities now exist. This digital entrepreneurship trend allows individuals to seize control of their financial stability and security, transcending the limitations imposed by their countries.
However, this growth is not without its challenges. A significant barrier preventing the widespread expansion of the digital economy is the lack of efficient cross-border payment infrastructure. Traditional major e-wallets often have high fees and slow processing times, rendering them ineffective for individuals working on small-scale digital projects.
Airtm, with its established marketplace in every Latin American country, is uniquely positioned to address this issue. Providing digital dollar payments at a low fee and swift processing time, Airtm’s cross-border payment rails are perfectly suited to facilitate transactions for digital entrepreneurs. This positions Airtm as a critical player in driving the expansion of the digital economy in Latin America and beyond.
Airtm’s vision is not just to create technology, but to ignite an economy. An economy where enterprises create earning opportunities, where individuals can fulfill demand for their value creation, and where financially independent people are able to thrive. The company’s new brand, revolving around the concept of a prism, echoes this vision. A prism receives light and refracts it into a vibrant rainbow; Airtm aims to receive regions like Latin America and transform them into thriving economies. Ones where financially independent people are able to thrive thanks to their fluid access to their global economy. One where financially independent people, not their governments, make the developing world shine.