This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Cannabis series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and the cannabis industry.
In this interview, we speak with Ken Ramirez, CEO of Alt Thirty Six, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the cannabis business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What's the story behind Alt Thirty Six? Why and how did you begin?
KR: Alt Thirty Six was founded in 2015 with the aim of reinventing traditional payments for cannabis businesses and consumers. Since legalization of cannabis across various US states, merchants have been struggling to gain access to traditional financial and banking services, forced to take risks and costs by accepting high fees and operating in physical cash. Cannabis consumers used to making safe purchases via banking services are now made to use cash, pay ATM fees and going back twenty years in technological innovation.
On a mission to establish an economic and cultural infrastructure for the modern cannabis business and consumers, Alt Thirty Six discovered the potential for blockchain technologies to revolutionize the cannabis payment industry by enabling safe and secure cannabis purchases in-store and online.
Today, Alt Thirty Six offers businesses and consumers across multiple legalized US states, a fully legal and compliant digital payments platform – making cannabis commerce faster, transparent, more secure, and less expensive for the legal US cannabis industry.
2. Please describe your use case and how Alt Thirty Six uses blockchain:
KR: The Alt Thirty Six digital payments platform is a user-friendly, cost-effective and fully compliant solution to the cannabis industry’s current reliance on cash and deceptive use of debit and credit cards. Through our proprietary technology and established banking relationships, Alt Thirty Six enables cannabis merchants to seamlessly accept electronic payments in-store and online, while simultaneously storing transaction records on the Dash blockchain for record-keeping, preventing money laundering and other financial-related crimes.
The main value points of Alt Thirty Six’s blockchain solution are immutability, security, control, and transparency. This is an opportunity to work directly with the banks and financial institutions in providing them with ledgers, transparency and real-time data on all transactions, especially valuable in a new industry like cannabis, where they would not otherwise be able to collect, digest and process with their existing technology and or partners.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
KR: We offer a business to business solution, a consumer-facing solution and partnership integrations. For merchants, we significantly reduce the risks associated with cash-only transactions by enabling cannabis retailers to accept digital payments online for pick-up and delivery. Alt Thirty Six improves cash flow, eliminates the hidden costs of running a cash-only service, and encourages customers to purchase more products at a greater volume with greater frequency. Having a fully compliant and easy-to-use digital payment option like Alt Thirty Six, completely bypasses all these issues, making it easy to fuel inventory, pay salaries, pay for invoices and coordinate deliveries.
Utilizing the Alt Thirty Six hosted payments feature, Pineapple Express offers their customers the option to pay for cannabis purchases directly from their bank account, improving customer and driver satisfaction rates by allowing customers to reward drivers for exceptional service with a digital tip. When customers make a digital payment in advance, this minimizes wasted trips for drivers and improved cash flow throughout the supply chain.
Consumers who visit their local dispensaries who offer Alt Thirty Six as a payment solution, will be given the option to pay for their products via their bank instead of cash. With a simple single click sign-on, consumers have saved a lot of time looking for and standing in a line for ATMs, paying ATM fees and avoided potential risks while carrying around cash. Furthermore, Alt Thirty Six allows merchants to finally know who their customers are; meaning understanding their customers purchasing behaviors, preferred product choices, offering tailored coupons, loyalty programs, customer care, special offers when referring their friends and more.
4. What other blockchain use cases in the cannabis industry are you excited about?
KR: Blockchain technologies and the cannabis industry are rapidly transforming. It will be interesting to see how blockchain can be applied to the growing cannabis industry; specifically, within the cannabis industry’s distribution and supply chain management. We see the potential for blockchain to revolutionize the cannabis industry – making cannabis operations faster, more secure, and less expensive on a global scale.
5. Where will Alt Thirty Six be in five years?
KR: Our goal is to be the leading digital payments infrastructure for legal cannabis businesses and customers globally. Many major U.S. payment processors and ancillary payment technology companies have been exploring options to enter the cannabis market. The extensive amount of time and resources dedicated to the development of the Alt Thirty Six digital platform creates significant opportunities for partners looking to leverage blockchain in the cannabis industry.
We are dedicated to providing the best technology and ensuring all parties are compliant, for millions of merchants, customers and banking institutions to grow their businesses. As our customers and partners grow, we can work towards impacting our communities to lead the cannabis industry towards reliable, safe and transparent solutions and customer care.