This interview is part of our new Blockchain For Payments series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and payments.
In this interview we speak with Alexi Lane, CEO and founder of Everex, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the payments business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Everex? Why and how did you begin?
AL: I first discovered crypto and blockchain technology in 2014 alongside Everex’s co-founder, Alexander Kakunov, who became a CTO. The technology became increasingly intriguing for us as we began discovering the technology’s potential in providing better ways of facilitating payment and money transfer transactions and, ultimately, financial inclusion among different stakeholders. Over time, we began seeing the merits of using blockchain technology, seeing that it had already begun transforming industries and lives in tremendous ways. This eventually led up to the conceptualization of a platform that enables users to access and transfer their funds seamlessly without the expensive fees that are normally charged by mainstream remittance services and banks.
In 2016, we began working on making the Everex platform a reality. The name Everex stands for “Everything Exchangeable.” We believe that the future of fintech will be the tokenization of assets on the blockchain. Today, fiat currencies are being replaced by blockchain solutions for trades and business transactions – and I believe this is just the beginning. The next step will be the tokenization of currencies, gold, equities, and other financial and non-financial assets such as real estate property. This will benefit communities in the long-run by providing greater accessibility and transparency.
2. Please describe your use cases and how Everex uses blockchain:
AL: Everex facilitates cross-border money transfers and payments for the user categories that pay the most for the least of transaction amounts. Underbanked and unbanked people around the world like travelers, digital nomads, migrant workers, seeking to send money to their families, expats, and SMEs seeking cheaper ways of paying domestic and international suppliers.
With Asia being a significant tourism and business destination, currency exchange services for travelers from Europe and the US as well as expats living in Asia has become one of the main offerings we wish to develop as an attractive alternative to traditional money exchange services. Users will be able to save on exchange and withdrawal fees not only as a result of the minimal fees we charge, but also through our use of stablecoins which mitigates the volatility usually associated with cryptocurrencies.
Stablecoin settlements is the next best thing in payments, which may end the practise of “payday” lending for merchants, who have to wait days and even weeks to receive their sales proceeds from payment processing companies.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user base that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
AL: Our use cases can be broken down according to specific users, namely travelers, digital nomads, and SMEs.
Travelers and digital nomads, particularly those from Europe and the United States, flock to Thailand as a result of its eclectic culture and vibrancy. Using Everex’s ‘Cardless ATM’ option, travelers can convert their U.S. Dollars, Euros, or cryptocurrencies into Thai Baht and obtain cash from ATMs across the country without the need for a local bank account or to use a debit/credit card. This provides savings on both foreign exchange fees and withdrawal fees, which may be reach up to 6.5 euros.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also seek cost-effective avenues for transactions given that many options available to them charge premiums for both receiving payment from customers and sending payments to suppliers. Much in the same way as Everex serves the needs of travelers and migrant workers, the platform aims to meet their needs as well.
4. What other blockchain use cases in payments are you excited about?
AL: When I first discovered blockchain technology, I came to the realization that its potential is endless; and that in and of itself is an exciting feat for me. However, in terms of its uses in facilitating payments, I would say I look forward to blockchain developments in asset tokenization and trade financing.
As a platform that looks to disrupt mainstream payment services, I also hold the view that the above-mentioned industries are ones that are marred by inefficiencies and lack of accessibility. I hope that these limitations can one day be addressed in the same way Everex aims to do so in our industry.
5. Where will Everex be in 5 years?
AL: Everex’s goal is to create a financial ecosystem in which most digital wallets are powered by Everex technology, providing blockchain-powered interoperability between thousands of global digital wallets that currently do not communicate with each other. In 5 years, we aim to make our platform an avenue that empowers and facilitates both domestic and cross-border payments for individuals and SMEs, bringing economic growth to regions underserved by banks.