“Money is just a number in a database.” – Elon Musk
Alexi Lane, CEO and Founder of Everex, connected with 30SecondsToFly from his headquarters in Bangkok, just days after completing a successful ICO, to discuss revolutionizing the financial services industry.
30STF spoke with Lane about creating borderless transactions for everyone, including some game-changing benefits for international business travelers.
Everex stands for “Everything Exchangeable.” It’s the only service that allows you to store multiple currencies and multiple assets on your mobile wallet. With Blockchain technology, Everex removes financial institutions from the equation by simplifying the money exchanges to a peer to peer level. There’s no centralized custodian that controls your money. Instead, there are digital nodes around the globe that keep an eye on it.
Blockchain revolutionizes banking by making transactions public, transparent, secure, and low-cost.
In today’s modern technological age, you might be surprised to learn that over 2.5 billion people do not have bank accounts or even access to banking. For example, migrant workers in Southeast Asia work away from their families and must send cash home to support their children. The process is both inconvenient and costly. They lose a significant proportion of their earnings through foreign currency exchanges and fees.
According to World Bank Group’s Douglas Pearce, “Access to basic savings and payment services has direct poverty reduction impacts, income impacts, food nutrition impacts.” The Everex service allows these low-income populations to transfer money via their mobile phones. This removes the insecurity of dealing only with cash as well as the inconvenience of having to physically send and receive the income. By providing access to alternative blockchain-powered money transfer system, Everex empowers people to save for their children’s education and rebuild after natural disasters.
Exchanging Foreign Currency
For international business travelers seeking access to cash in their destination, none of the current options are ideal. 1) You could contact your bank in advance and request the currency, for a fee. 2) You could change money at the airport when you land. However, the exchange rate is not favorable and you start your trip feeling ripped off. Also, the currency exchange booths more often than not entail more lines. Once you land, you want to get started with your trip, meeting your responsibilities head on and exploring the country. Furthermore, you could have an issue with your debit card and then be stuck in the country with no money. With Everex, you can store local currency in your mobile wallet and make purchases on the fly.
You can use Everex to make point-of-sale purchases with “Token-cash”, which acts like digital cash. Simply input the transaction on your phone using the Everex Mobile Wallet app, scan the merchant’s QR code within their wallet to select the destination, and the payment transfers instantaneously.
TokenCash Solves Compliance Problems
One of the major obstacles for Travel Managers is reducing non-compliance, that is, when business travelers make purchases outside of the company travel policy. Everex gives travel managers the power to create purpose-based budgets by taking advantage of the Ethereum technology – a blockchain-based digital currency platform. You can create a smart contract with the Ether programming to specify the activity of the user down to the conditions of the smart contract – or limit what the digital currency, or TokenCash, can be used for.
Emergency Money Solution
Travel managers owe their employees a duty of care to keep them safe. In case of emergency like a mugging or lost wallet, the business traveler no longer has to wait days to receive money from traditional means like wire transfer. Everex makes it possible to travel managers to send money instantaneously.
In our interview with Alexi Lane, we learn more about how Everex can benefit international business travelers, help to bootstrap entrepreneurs and make a significant impact on the 2.5 billion “unbanked” adults around the globe.
An Interview with Alexi Lane
Borderless Transfers Facilitate International Business Travel
30SecondsToFly (30STF): How can Everex make life easier for business travelers?
Lane: What Everex is doing is providing digital payment services using blockchain technology. Everex simplifies banking relationships by bringing them down to a peer to peer level. When a business traveler goes from his or her original country to another for business, Everex makes sure he or she is funded with local currency. Most business travelers, regardless of your credit score or bank account balances at home, become underbanked in the destination country. Meaning you lose direct access to your money. Cash withdrawals carry 5%-10% currency exchange fees. If you pay with your card, the credit system adds additional fees for credit card processing for the international transaction. In effect, Everex is fixes those problems with its practical application of blockchain technology.
30STF: How does Everex make use of blockchain technology?
Lane: We’re creating a mode of borderless money transfer by facilitating different liquidity providers via federated TokenCash issuers network. In the same way that you can transfer Bitcoin to another person, you can now transfer a dollar or yen or Thai baht. And it’s not only transfers, it’s also payments as well. A merchant can just pull up his phone, show the QR code and accept payment from any business traveler.
30STF: For people who are new to learning about digital currency exchanges, what is a basic definition of blockchain?
Lane: Blockchain works like a shared excel spreadsheet. Imagine sharing a spreadsheet amongst many people, and you can’t make any changes without the other people noticing it and verifying it. You cannot make a change to the ledger without a consensus for your action – that’s transparency.
30STF: How does the Everex mobile wallet differ from other mobile wallets?
Lane: Other mobile money wallets operate in a closed-loop environment and don’t talk to each other. You can’t send payment, for example, from Alipay to Paypal. Blockchain changes that. In such case the wallet is irrelevant, and token, just like your paper cash, can be stored even without wallet. And just like we now store paper money in different pocket wallets or money clips, it will be possible to use TokenCash in any Ethereum compatible wallet or just send to an address. With our Everex wallet you can store multiple currencies and multiple assets, and send payments to any other user regardless of that user’s location.
30STF: Can you share an example of a practical application of blockchain technology that Everex uses?
Lane: We decided to create money transfer and credit engine system by using an Ethereum token that is backed by actual fiat based currency – dollar, yen, euro, etc. We have those tokens transact on the blockchain in a transparent, secure and cost-efficient way. This eliminates the price volatility and trading cost factors associated with transacting via bitcoin. We call it ‘stable coin.’
30STF: One of the big benefits of Ethereum is that you can program the digital currency for specific purposes. How could this work for travel programs and compliance?
Lane: EVX token is our utility token. We use it to reward users for financial operations, therefore building their own credit score. Our EVX in a way is like a credit score in a global, decentralized credit scoring role in the blockchain. Our Stable Coin, which is TokenCash, is your fiat currency on the blockchain. With Ethereum, the beauty and genius is that you can program whatever functionality you need for your business. You can create a smart contract with the Ether programming to specify the activity of the user down to the conditions of the smart contract – or limit what the TokenCash can be used for. Say for example, you can create a budget of 2000 units that will not allow the user to overcharge or make purchases out of compliance.
The Artificial Intelligence Behind Everex
30STF: How does the Everex AI and Machine Learning software determine a user’s credit worthiness?
Lane: We’re collecting data on our transactions. The blockchain is the open source. We integrate AI and Machine learning to analyze the trends in trading through the blockchain. We want to use it to help people build their own positive credit history. Their transaction history determines how much credit they earn. You earn credit to your wallet and any merchant in the world can accept it by downloading the free app, registering or signing up and showing the QR code to the payer. We charge zero fees to the merchant, and of course transactions for the user are free.
30STF: What is the significance of the name Everex?
Lane: Everex stands for “Everything Exchangeable.” We see the future of finance as tokenizing assets on the blockchain. The fiat currency that that we utilize now is just a start because we need it in order to trade or do business on blockchains. The next step will be to tokenize gold, equity, any financial asset really, and even non-financial assets like real estate, which again will benefit local communities tremendously.
A Passion for Inclusion
30STF: How did you become passionate about inclusion and helping the more than 2 billion unbanked people around the globe?
Lane: We saw this opportunity that the blockchain technology provides. You only need access to the internet to gain access to capital and facilitate financial transactions. And because the blockchain makes the transactions public, transparent, secure and low-cost. All these benefits from the blockchain made our platform possible so we can help others who can’t afford to have a bank account, something that many take for granted.
The reason there are currently 2.5 billion people in the world without access to bank accounts is because the banks qualify the relationship as not-profitable. By contrast, the mobile operators see the opportunity to serve those clients. Even those without a bank account have a smartphone. It makes sense that if people can access data and the blockchain, then they can access financial services. Payments and mobile technology are all merging. And that’s the intersection where I see huge potential for Everex and for the industry.
30STF: It’s clear by the main concept of the company – providing access to the bankless and bootstrapping entrepreneurs through microlending – that you focus on making a social impact. What does it mean to be part of a company that is doing social good?
Lane: Doing social good is one of our primary goals. It’s our primary agenda. It would be just not right to have knowledge of this technology and not try to do something that benefits people. With the access to financial services that we provide, we’re empowering people to make a serious economic development for their local community. Now they can make remote payments, have fast access to capital and much more.
ICO Fundraising Support
30STF: You recently completed your Initial Coin Offering (“ICO”), raising $26 million. How did it perform compared to your expectations?
Lane: It’s amazing. I think we did very well given the conditions of the ICO market being very hot. We generated over 22,000 people to our email list, and 8,300 people contributed to our campaign. This community support is the proof that what we do is important. The support from our early adopters is beyond our imagination. Small business owners are both investing and signing up as a user because they need to make international transactions but don’t want to deal with bank fees.
30STF: At this stage in the development of the company, what is your biggest challenge?
Lane: Finding a talented team to help us grow as quickly as the demand. We started as a small company and we are looking to hire more people with different backgrounds and visions. Also, we plan on expanding from smaller markets to big markets. So far we are testing the waters here in South East Asia, a mostly cash-based economy where most people do not yet have bank accounts. The US is one of the largest remittance outflow countries. Of course the US is potentially a very large market for us, but we’ll need to establish the right partners, so we keep updating as testing advances on the different markets.
The Future of Borderless Transactions
Given that about half of the world’s adults do not have access to banking, the inclusion movement deserves much effort and attention. A revolution in the financial services industry is long overdue. Thankfully, Everex takes advantage of increased mobile connectivity and blockchain technology to empower people stuck in low-income environments.
While the Everex service has not opened in the US, its practical applications of blockchain technology, and the cause behind the company are important things to pay attention to. It won’t be long before the savvy travel managers fully incorporate borderless transactions technology into their travel programs to keep their travelers funded, safe and in-compliance.
David is a digital media attorney and the Editor in Chief at 30SecondsToFly. As an American expat living in Luxembourg, David feels closest to his higher self whilst traveling and expressing his gratitude for new eye-opening experiences through storytelling and filmmaking on his blog www.FarOutExpat.com