Alexi Lane is the brains behind Everex – a fintech company which saw the light in 2016. Alexi is a FinTech entrepreneur, investor and executive with over fifteen years of experience within the capital markets, financial services and payments industries. He is a former Morgan Stanley banker, having graduated from the University of Tennessee. For more than 3 years now, Alexi has been involved in the blockchain development, and today, he is one of the pioneers of financial payments with the blockchain technology.
Furthermore, Alexi Lane has been featured as one of the the Top Blockchain Influencers within the FinTech industry: https://www.lattice80.com/lattice80-blockchain-100-report/
Based in: Bangkok, Thailand
Company website: https://www.everex.io
When was your first encounter with Blockchain technology, Alexi? What about it really caught your attention?
I have made my way into blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies at the end of 2013.
The first time my cofounder, who is actually Everex’s CTO, and myself have heard about “cryptos and blockchain” we got curious to know more about this technology, so we’ve actually implemented it by ourselves to find out more about the real potential of it. The first project was about digitizing gold on blockchain, which was called Midas Rezerv, and that was one of the first projects with real traction back then – where blockchain backed gold was traded in Bangkok for Thai Baht. What we figured out was that gold and crypto markets are not correlated, but in order to trade anything on blockchain with national currencies, those currencies must also be on blockchain (which is what is being called now “stable token” or “pegged coin”). So that’s how Everex saw the light, by starting to put national currencies on the blockchain.
Midas Rezerv was actually the initial business line, which we started in the early 2015’s until April 2016, for which we have then pivoted the company and rebranded it to Everex, focusing more on national currencies and payments on the blockchain.
The understanding we had then, and the understanding we have now… how do you reckon it has evolved?
Our understanding about the technology and the opportunities it brings hasn’t changed. We believe that blockchain technology, first of all, is a system that fits best for financial services, i.e. an optimal solution to transfer value between parties at minimal cost and time and without third parties.
However, building competitive products on top of the blockchain is where the challenge is.
Would you say the ‘crypto craze’ contributed to this much? Any other factors that helped bring blockchain technology to the limelight except that?
I believe that the “crypto craze” has rather damaged the industry by bringing “stupid” speculative money and creating hype with gazillions of “experts” popped out from nowhere. Now the tide has receded, the easy money has gone, and it’s time for real solution builders and “smart” institutional money as investors to come in.
What main features of Blockchain technology, in general, make it so prevalent or relevant in your opinion?
Transparency, security, low cost and fast settlement for transactions.
How has the experience been in building Everex? Which would you say are the most interesting aspects to work with?
It’s always hard to be a pioneer in anything, especially in building innovative products for such conservative and regulated industry as financial services. The best description of the pioneers is “people who lie down in the bushes with arrows in their backs” (laughs). It has been really challenging to build the bridge between fiat and crypto worlds in applying the blockchain technology for non-cryptocurrency use cases, such as cross-border money transfers or direct payments.
You are based in Singapore and Bangkok, presently. The government has been quite welcoming to explore the technology before deciding if and how to regulate it. What expectations do you have in this regard in the near future.
Any government can be proactive in exploring new technologies and stimulating small ventures into development of new products, but if the industry is built and depends on banks, who may or may not have the same attitude towards fintech innovators, sometimes seeing them as competitors, and rightfully so, then we will have conflict of interests. This what I believe is happening now in most of the countries, where fintech has to burst its way through legacy payment systems to prove its value. Expectations, pretty much depend on who will win the “battle for the customers”. Either fintechs will convince consumers to try new products and use new services, or customers will remain loyal to the traditional financial players, preferring paying more in fees and time for an already established and trusted relationship.
What are the main areas of interest for you and Everex in the next 1 year?
Going live with the projects we mapped out and avoiding “arrows and the bushes” 🙂