Align Commerce is an international payments company. It replaces wire transfers, simplifying the process of sending and receiving money for SMBs in more than 60 countries. Olivier Veyrac, VP Customer Development told us more about the company and how they are disrupting international payments and transactions.
Could you please tell us more about Align Commerce and what makes it so innovative?
When you want to make a domestic payment, you don’t have to think about it – you just pay and you are done. But international payments are much more complicated. Most of them are handled by banks, and run on bank wires using the older SWIFT network. Wire transfers usually require filling out forms and sometimes going to the bank. They are notoriously slow as they involve several institutions, each one charging fees. Banks keep fees and exchange rates opaque. For example, they will tell you that the cost of sending a wire is $45, but will omit to tell you that they charge 3 to 4% or more on the exchange rate.
Align Commerce’s is an online platform running on several payment rails like the Blockchain or treasury rails. Each rail is optimized for costs and efficiency based on corridors. The user’s experience is much simpler: Set up an online account with Align, link your bank account and send a payment via email to the receiver of the funds… that’s it.
Align’s does not charge any fees for sending or receiving money when multiple currencies are involved and the exchange rate is 100% transparent. Because exchange rates are disclosed, it is easy to reconcile payments. The system also allows tracking the transfer online, much like you would track a courier package.
Can you tell us more about Blockchain and how it has the potential to disrupt the payment industry?
The Blockchain is a distributed, decentralized, cloud-based ledger, consensus-driven infrastructure that enables trust between its participants and connected assets. It is a very efficient way to track all sorts of transactions (e.g., smart contracts, monetary transactions, etc.)
Think about it like you think about the Internet, in the sense that the information is distributed and no central authority is runs it.
Today the Blockchain is getting a lot of attention from the financial technology community. We think that in the next couple of years, it will radically change the way financial institutions function. The Blockchain is one of the rails Align uses to send and receive money internationally.
What is the benefit of using the Blockchain for global payment transactions?
The Blockchain is fast and secure, transactions are written and cannot be reversed. It is designed to handle large quantities of data. The Blockchain is an underpinning technology; it is important to note that there are many different Blockchains. One of the best known is the Bitcoin Blockchain. The first application of Blockchain and pioneer of Blockchain technology is the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Ethereum is another example of a public blockchain platform that enables contracts between participants using the cryptocurrency Ether.
Who are your clients (e.g., size/markets/verticals, etc.)?
Align Commerce’s customers are SMBs, typically under 50 employees with revenues up to $50 million. Some examples are hardware, IoT startups, hardware and technology companies, online retailers, food and wine companies… They use Align to replace wire transfers to pay suppliers, contractors, and making intercompany transfers (transferring money between different branches of a same company). Some customers also use Align to request payments from their customers.
Can you tell us about your recent expansion and strategy in France?
Because we are an international payments company, we need customer and sales support around the world. It’s important for Align Commerce to have local time zone support.
We have teams in the US, West coast and East coast, in Canada, and in Asia. We also started in Europe, in the Paris Region in France. France is one of our strongest corridors in Europe, Paris is a convenient location because its centrally located in Western Europe.
PRIME and Paris Region Entreprises have been supportive. They helped us start in France by facilitating introductions to lawyers, understanding the legal system. They even helped us with business development. We look forward to further European expansion from our Paris base.