Venezuelan citizens cross the Simon Bolivar bridge to Colombia in February 2018. Picture credits: Getty Images

Billions of people in developing nations are still largely held captive to a restricted, low quality, and expensive local financial industry run by archaic banking and government institutions. At the same time reckless monetary policies and political instability have eroded faith in numerous currencies and have forced consumers to participate in a myriad of different payment and account systems, where movement of money is expensive, slow and restricted — severely reducing economic liberty.

Launching initially in Latin America, AirTM empowers people to regain financial liberty through a e-wallet based p2p network that allows for the exchange of financial assets without a bank account. Exchange services are provided by thousands of human “nodes” who bridge transactions across several countries and banking systems to expand the network almost anywhere in the world. AirTM’s p2p network is connected to regulated financial services in the US. Current use cases are i) savings / preservation of wealth — i.e. the ability to quickly convert local fiat to USD, crypto or other assets ii) receiving and sending e.g. USD transfers for payments or remittances, and iii) “freeing” money trapped in other local e-wallets / accounts that are not connected to a free market. AirTM now has tens of thousands of monthly active users (mainly in Venezuela and other LatAm markets) and rapidly growing transaction volumes. AirTM plans to expand its services to offer a payments API, debit card and expanded crypto access and is also exploring “open sourcing” its network through a protocol.

Our Thesis

Given three significant macro trends: (1) political instability and fiscal policies unraveling entire economies (2) very limited “fair” access to a value preserving currency like USD in such economies, and (3) the fact that emerging economies remain financially underserved even in a “stable” scenario, AirTM could create new financial p2p infrastructure which could help hundreds of millions of people in emerging markets gain financial liberty. Moreover, in the case of a more macro banking crisis, AirTM’s network would allow for a resilient exchange of assets outside of traditional banking systems and make it easy for consumers living with devaluing currencies and resultant inflation to maintain wealth.

We’re excited to be backing Ruben, Jorge, Tim and the entire AirTM team on their mission. Here’s a TechCrunch article with a few more details and a recent NPR podcast.

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