Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Alexi Lane, CEO and Founder of Everex. Everex provides Ethereum blockchain-powered solutions for cross-border money transfers, direct payments, and fiat-to-digital asset swaps using stablecoins. Lane talked about the company’s achievements in Thailand and Myanmar, the advantages of trading on Everex, and the direction of the crypto market in the near future.
Asia Blockchain Review: Can you tell us about the founding of Everex? What are your long-term goals and vision?
Alexi Lane: Everex was conceived in 2016 with the aim of providing an easy and affordable way of conducting cross-border remittances in both fiat and digital currencies. The idea came about while we were working on a project involving the digitization of gold where we had to use traditional peer-to-peer payment methods, which, as many may already know, can be costly and time-consuming. It occurred to us then that there is room in the market for better ways to facilitate payments, particularly in a region like Southeast Asia, where remittances constitute significant contributions to the economy.
In terms of our vision, we seek to contribute towards greater financial inclusion by targeting Southeast Asia’s sizeable unbanked population through blockchain technology, which can play a significant role in opening up new financial opportunities for people regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.
Right now, we are focused on expanding the reach of our products, including Ethplorer.io, Chainy, and, of course, the Everex Wallet which stores several stablecoins representing a number of different fiat currencies. However, we are also working towards expanding our offerings beyond Southeast Asia, particularly into places in the United States such as New Jersey, California, and New York.
ABR: Can you tell us about the benefits of using stablecoins? Which currencies are you focused on?
AL: Stablecoins are backed by existing currencies or commodities such as the US Dollar, oil, and gold, making them much more stable compared to other coins. While their stability is still contingent on that of the currency or commodity they are backed by, they are still seen as more trustworthy assets for both individuals and retailers who are apprehensive about fluctuating prices.
Because of their link to currencies and/or commodities, stablecoins can be seen as a new way of accessing traditional financial services, including loans and funds transfers, using new technological developments — particularly for the unbanked. This will not only offer financial inclusion; it could also revolutionize the way financial services are offered and executed.
As of now, we are primarily concentrating on fiat-pegged digital currencies on the Ethereum blockchain that correspond to fiat currencies such as the US Dollar and make use of smart contracts.
ABR: What are some of your achievements in the Thai market?
AL: Thailand’s position as a regional economic hub presented us with an opportunity to gain a foothold in the money transfer market. Therefore, we have developed a digital fiat currency token based on the Thai Baht that targets both individuals and SMEs.
A gargantuan number of transactions take place to and from Thailand and its neighbouring countries, particularly for payments between buyers and sellers as well as people sending funds to their loved ones. Through our platform and token, we have been able to offer our customers cheaper alternatives for remitting funds, saving on exchange and withdrawal fees, while also enabling them to access digital asset markets.
With that said, we believe that we are playing a significant role, not only in providing alternative remittance methods for individuals and businesses alike, but also in the development of Thailand’s continuously evolving fintech sector.
ABR: Can you tell us about your partnership with Shwe Rural and Urban Development Bank and Krungthai Bank in Thailand? What have you accomplished with the partnership?
AL: Essentially, we have developed a remittance service powered by Everex between Shwe Bank and Krungthai Bank. Through this venture, we aim to bridge the gap that is holding back remittances between Thailand and Myanmar in order to fulfill the needs of over 3 million Myanmar migrant workers who are either plagued by high remittance costs or forced to use unreliable informal channels to send part of their income back to their families. Personally, I see this partnership as a milestone towards the integration of blockchain into real-life practical use, particularly as large institutions such as banks have started to take interest in its use cases.
As of April this year, we have secured endorsements from the governors of both the Thai and Myanmar central banks who share the vision upheld by the partnership — a big step towards providing greater financial inclusion in the region. We are now working tirelessly alongside our partners to make this project come to full fruition.
ABR: For users, what are some of the advantages of trading on the Everex platform? What are some of the unique services offered by Everex?
AL: Our platform allows fiat-to-crypto, crypto-to-fiat, and crypto-to-crypto transactions, making it easier to conduct fund transfers between wallets that were not previously interoperable. The EVX token, which is issued exclusively by Everex, is also traded on several global exchanges, including Binance, Huobi, and many others.
Everex also sets itself apart through our robust ecosystem. Our offerings include an Ethereum blockchain explorer called ‘Ethplorer’ which enables users to monitor tokens; an independent Ethereum-based smart contract provider that provides permanent proof of documentation and communication called Chainy; and, of course, our smart contract-powered Everex wallet.
For those who are looking for an affordable and seamless way of transferring funds internationally, please visit our website or get in touch with our team, which will be happy to help you get started.
ABR: What are the challenges in operating in Southeast Asia? What is the potential of cryptocurrency in the region?
AL: I think that the most pressing roadblock in Southeast Asia is the overall ambiguity with regard to regulations, specifically for firms providing money transfer services using blockchain technology. While many service providers in the industry seem similar to each other, there are distinguishing factors and legal requirements that set them apart. For example, there are differences between broker-dealers and money transmitters.
Moreover, while there is a tremendous amount of interest in blockchain, overall awareness about how it works is still lacking. This not only applies to individuals, but also institutions such as banks, corporations, and government agencies that may be seeking to use the technology to expand their offerings and improve their digital infrastructure. I believe that this gap in knowledge is something that we in the industry should strive to bridge in order to fully realize the potential of blockchain.
In terms of crypto’s potential in the region, I think that the possibilities are endless. However, the most notable, as previously touched upon, is how it can be a means of providing financial services for the millions of unbanked individuals in the region. This can manifest in several ways, including a seamless and affordable way of transferring funds and different sources of value throughout the region. There has already been considerable public interest in the region, particularly in the government sectors of Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
ABR: How do you see the future of the crypto market? What are your outlooks for this year and in 2020?
AL: It’s true that the crypto market has seen wild swings over the past year, but I truly believe that players in the crypto space have worked painstakingly towards a return to the fundamental core of the crypto: the democratization of transactions and exchanges. Now, we see the space focusing more on improving the coin’s viability in providing easy and affordable ways of transferring funds and other sources of value.
A notable development in the crypto space is its recent comeback following the market crash of 2018, which saw the prices of cryptocurrencies go back up to hopeful levels. Bitcoin, for example, reached a high of $12,000 so far this year. With major retailers such as Amazon and Microsoft starting to accept crypto payments, there’s no doubt that crypto will continue to recover well into 2020.
ABR: In your opinion, will cryptocurrencies see mass adoption? What are some of the factors that are preventing this from happening?
AL: A wealth of data has shown that the adoption of cryptocurrencies, most notably among offline merchants, is continuing to rise. As cryptocurrencies are becoming more accessible and user-friendly, consumers and retailers alike are warming up to the idea of using crypto as a means of exchange. In my opinion, I think that the largest driver of this adoption will be purchases of consumables and small transactions facilitated by both SMEs and larger retailers such as Starbucks and Whole Foods. Of course, this will snowball as adoption continues to grow with word-of-mouth from its users.
But as previously mentioned, one major hurdle slowing down the realization of this scenario is regulatory ambiguities that are still being addressed by authorities, not only in Southeast Asia but across the world. Education needs to continue to raise awareness among different stakeholders, from policymakers to individual users. Through this, more informed decisions can be made to address the regulatory needs of blockchain technology and make individual users more comfortable with the idea of using cryptocurrencies as a means of exchange.
Follow Asia Blockchain Review on:
We provide information about Asia Blockchain Review latest activities as well as global blockchain news and research. Subscribe to our Newsletter now or Contact us