Digital challenger bank Airfox has partnered with Mastercard in a bid to further expand the availability of affordable banking services in Brazil.

The company also teamed up with payment processor Cielo and Zurich Insurance. This will bolster the presence of its digital banking offering banQi in the country.

The overall value of the signed contracts amounts to $77m.

Developed in collaboration with retail giant Via Varejo, banQi is a free banking service developed to target underbanked population in Brazil.

The new partnerships are expected to enable Airfox to strengthen banQi functionalities and financial services access.

The partnership with Mastercard Brazil will provide banQi customers with access to digital and physical prepaid cards. The customers can use these cards for online and offline purchases.

These prepaid cards can also be used to withdraw cash from majority of ATMs across Brazil.

Mastercard president of South America and Brazil João Pedro Paro Neto said: “This strategic partnership with Airfox provides not only convenience and secure transactions, but also financial and digital inclusion for a portion of the population that doesn’t have access to financial and digital services.”

Later this year, banQi will be made available across all 800 plus Via Varejo’s Casas Bahia stores in Brazil.

Once available, the banQi clients can deposit and withdraw money from these stores.

Airfox founder and CEO Victor Santos said: “At present, those without bank accounts face daily financial challenges.

“Generally, the poorer you are, the more you pay for financial services and the less access you have to wealth-building instruments.

“Today’s largely digital world presents an opportunity to balance that inequity. banQi services represent a leap in the right direction.”