This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring Fintech influencers who are doing work that advances our efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
LATTICE80, in collaboration with FinTech4Good, presents the complete list of Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencers who are leveraging the power of fintech and blockchain technology to create a positive impact on the future. LATTICE80 is launching our accelerator programme based in Hong Kong to help SDG-focused startups build blockchain solutions. Are you a SDG-focused startup? Click here to indicate your interest.
Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.
1. Tell us more about what you do and how your role or project is making an impact. How do they support the SDGs?
First and foremost, thank you for having me here. As for introductions, my name is Alexi Lane and I am the CEO and co-founder of Everex. By profession, I am a fintech entrepreneur and this has become my main focus after having worked in capital markets, financial services and payments over the past 15 years. After graduating from the University of Memphis, Tennessee, I worked at Morgan Stanley, Wealth Strategies Group, and in a number of payment processing companies as a director before starting out on my own journey of entrepreneurship.
In 2013, after the advent of new technologies and after realizing the promise they bear for the improvement of a variety of industries, I became an active blockchain enthusiast and decided to implement these technologies for the betterment of mankind as a whole, since that is the purpose of technology in essence. Over time, I developed my own concept of how to apply blockchain in combination with my own professional background and experience, and that was how Everex came into being.
2. Why do you see Fintech and/or Blockchain in particular as an important enabler in creating a social impact?
When we look at blockchain technologies as a whole, we have to understand that they are the framework for developing platforms that in turn can be used for development of various superstructures. By applying the technology in the correct manner, we can achieve the improvement of existing infrastructures and make a variety of services cheaper, faster, and easier to use. These are the core facets of improving quality of life for people on a global scale.
We have a global outlook when working on our project, since Everex is designed to resolve the issue of global financial inclusion, thus leading the way towards eliminating poverty through the use of widely available and accessible mobile technology and internet availability. Financial inclusion can be achieved by facilitating access to international payment networks that can be built on the basis of blockchain technology. The technology itself is best suited for augmenting interactions and international payments by making the underlying processes cheaper, faster and more efficient.
3. What are some challenges you face along the way?
I would say the main challenge is to actually present the solution of product service to legacy players. By this, I mean the regulators and the bankers. Basically, those who now work in this space or have blockchain businesses. Many of the market players are still skeptical towards blockchain technologies, and rightly so, because penetration is slower than it should be. Though that is also understandable, since people are always apprehensive of change, novelties and any intrusion or innovation that is capable of disrupting the traditional way they have gotten used to doing things.
The challenge will be to get your partner or the person you work with on the same page with you, otherwise you cannot effectively run your business. The way forward lies through proper education of this new technology. Education of the opportunities it offers and the ways of using them. And, of course, the basis of education is presenting information in the right way, since we are not talking about children, but professionals who will have to eventually rethink the entire way they do business once blockchain becomes an inevitable reality.
4. What more do you think is needed in the ecosystem to support and facilitate creating a greater social impact?
The main steps that have to be taken are ensuring a higher rate of participation and involvement in the technology and an understanding of the technological trends that are emerging. We need the participation and reevaluation of traditional financial service providers like mid-tier banks or money transfer companies in innovative technology adoption processes. Blockchain is the only technology that is capable of offering better standards and solutions than the ones we have now.
Banking industry players have gotten used to working with tested and proven legacy payment solutions. That is why they are apprehensive and unwilling to adopt fintech solutions offered to them due to the lack of openness to innovations. Call it being obtuse, narrow-minded or backwards, it makes no difference. Change is inevitable, and in this case, it is for the better for everyone using banking services. It is vital for us to get the banks and other financial market players onboard and convince them that they will be benefiting from the application of new technologies. Once they realize that being included and being part of a new digital economy is in their interests, we will see the launch of multiple test and pilot projects. It’s just a matter of time.
5. What do you hope to see or achieve in 10 years time?
Our goal is to combine blockchain technology with the widely available and solid mobile infrastructure to allow billions of underbanked individuals in the developing world to have access to affordable financial services anywhere and become part of the world economy. We are currently, literally, neglecting billions of people around the world, simply because they cannot use banks for mundane, even archaic reasons like socio-demographic affiliation or bureaucracy. That is billions of people whose lives can be improved immeasurably if they can get access to financial services once we break the glass walls barring them from such opportunities. 10 years is not a long time to change the world and we sincerely hope and believe that we can do it if we focus all our energy not on profiteering, but on actually making use of the technological opportunities we have now and developing useful products for the neglected strata of the global population.