In October, point-of-sale and business solution Alt Thirty Six announced their exclusive partnership with Dash. This partnership has been used as the poster child for Dash’s use case as a payments system without the limitations of the banking world, particularly since the platform’s first target market is the legal cannabis industry, which has traditionally been plagued by banking problems.
Dash Force News had the pleasure of speaking with Alt Thirty Six CEO Ken Ramirez on the details of what the platform aims to offer, as well as release dates and projected 2018 usage scope. Additionally, as a Dash Force News exclusive, Alt Thirty Six released one of their merchant promotional videos ahead of schedule.
Dash Force News: Alt Thirty Six was originally promoted as a payment solution to cannabis businesses. Is this the extent of the use case for the platform?
Ken Ramirez: No. The Alt Thirty Six platform was designed to solve the complexities of all merchants accepting and operating in digital currency. Our primary goal is the mass adoption of the Dash currency and when evaluating verticals for initial launch, the cannabis industry provided the greatest use-case for Dash because of three reasons:
• limited or no access to US banks and financial services;
• wide demographic of cannabis users;
• $20b cash-intensive industry and exponentially increasing.
Despite cannabis being our primary vertical, our platform is merchant agnostic and we are in discussions with merchants in multiple other industries including: bars and restaurants, airlines, convenient stores, debt collections and billing agencies, and online retailers.
What additional offerings will be included in the platform?
KR: Facilitating a transaction is only one or the many features of our platform. Our goal is to provide merchants with an application that offers all the features required to operate in Dash efficiently and within compliance. When a merchant, vendor, supplier, or customer registers in our platform, they immediately get access to:
• digital wallet
• exchange account
• bank account
• automated tax calculations (capital gains and loss)
• real-time, customer risk scoring on each wallet
• enhanced AML/KYC features
• reporting tools
• administrative portal with interactive dashboard
• user-management tools
• virtual POS
• ecommerce and in app-mobile payments
When a merchant registers in our system, they have the ability to invite their vendors and suppliers directly from their portal. Similarly, a supplier or vendor can invite a merchant through their portal, enabling seamless transactions between all parties in the supply chain.
One of the biggest challenges cryptocurrency business owners have faced is the inability to easily integrate into accounting and payroll systems, including for tax compliance. Does Alt36 have a plan to deal with this? What about existing point-of-sale hardware and software used by businesses?
KR: We have already integrated taxation services into the platform and will be performing integrations with the most popular accounting platforms, including Quickbooks, Xero, Netsuite, and Freshbooks based on customer demand. In our next version releases, we will be including payroll and invoicing services for employees and contractors.
For existing POS providers, we have developed a JSON RESTful API (similar to Stripe) and are currently testing our first integrations into our partner sandbox. We currently have 10 ISV partners in queue to integrate. Once we conclude testing, anticipating no more than 2 weeks, our first ISV partners will begin their integrations.
Speaking of compliance, cryptocurrency and cannabis seem like a match made in hell in terms of regulatory hurdles. Will this be a problem for Alt36?
KR: In terms of regulation in both cryptocurrency and cannabis, we are taking significant measures to ensure we, and most importantly, our merchants have access to all the necessary compliance tools and resources to operate fully within compliance. For all merchants accepting digital currency, they are required to calculate and file taxes on all capital gains and losses, which can be near impossible with out the proper knowledge and resources. Our platform provides automated gains/loss calculations on each transaction for the merchant. Furthermore, at year-end, we provide a completed IRS tax form with all data completed.
For our cannabis merchants, regulation is much more extensive due to federal regulations placed on the industry. To provide enhanced due diligence, we’ve developed a full AML/KYC program (over 100 pages) and are working with the top FinCEN and state regulators to ensure all transactions on our platform comply with state and federal regulations. Additionally, our general counsel is one of the top cannabis lawyers in the industry and provides guidance on our go-to-market strategies to ensure compliance with state specific regulations.
When is the platform scheduled for public release? Around when will the average business owner be able to sign up and start taking Dash payments?
KR: We are testing the first integrations into our partner sandbox. Currently, we have 10 ISV partners in queue to integrate. Once we conclude testing, approximately 2 weeks, our first ISV partners will begin their integrations and testing. The first two ISV channel partners, CannTrade and the other which will be disclosed in a press release, will provide access to over 1,000 cannabis merchants, vendors, and suppliers. Once we feel confident that our platform can meet the needs of our growing customer demand, we will open the API for public access.
If you could hypothesize, around how many businesses will be able to accept Dash at public launch? What about year-end projections or just-for-fun guesstimations?
KR: Once our ISV partners complete the integrations and testing, we will begin on boarding merchants through our channel partnerships. The first integration, CannTrade, will allow over 400 cannabis merchants, vendors, and suppliers in CA and AZ to begin accepting Dash through their b2b platform. Each additional customer CannTrade on-boards will automatically receive an account with Alt Thirty Six. The second ISV partner will provide access to 1000+ merchants operating on their platform.
The Alt Thirty Six team currently consists of 11 full-time employees, 12 advisors, and 17 engineers and are projecting 50+ full-time employees by July 2018. The 10 ISV partners
in queue to integrate will provide access to approximately 4000+ cannabis merchants with approximately 5-10 million patients and customers. We will be disclosing the partnerships in upcoming press releases and network updates.
Our new product website is under development and will reflect the current product offering, updated Alt Thirty Six team, and Product36 registration. We appreciate all the support from the network and our partners over the course of the project. We look forward to being Dash exclusive and increasing the adoption of Dash acceptance through our product offering.