Align Commerce, a new startup from an old hand in the payment and transaction market, has raised $12.5 million in new financing to use blockchain technology to create a new cross-border payment technology for small and medium-sized businesses.
Founded by Marwan Forzley, a former executive at Western Union, Align Commerce is using the blockchain technology and Bitcoin as an alternative way to transfer money among small and medium-sized businesses in the same way that other companies have leveraged the technology for peer-to-peer money transfers or payments to individual contractors.
Forzley declined to comment on the number of companies that are using the service, nor would he discuss the company’s transaction volumes, but he did point to a number of testimonials that are available on the Align Commerce site.
“We did a private beta with businesses that we know and have access to,” says Forzley.
Using Align Commerce, companies don’t have to worry about currency conversion. In an example Forzley presented, a vineyard in Napa Valley can bill a German wine shop for a payment, and the merchant can pay using only the email address of the vineyard.
“Our system picks up the invoice. We email the payor… when we pick up the money in Europe the wine shop pays locally and then on the receiving end the vineyard receives its money locally,” says Forzley.
The Align Commerce founder has been working on the company since May 2014, when he left Western Union. The company launched its private beta in October of that year and opened the payment system in April 2015.
“Every year, banks charge small businesses $50 billion in wire and foreign exchange fees,” Forzley said in a statement.
As a result of the $12.5 million investment led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, KPCB general partner Randy Komisar will take a seat on the company’s board of directors. KPCB was joined in the round by new investors Recruit Venture Partners, and existing investors including Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group, and FS Venture Capital LLC.
It’s worth noting Align isn’t the only company looking to get into cross-border payments based on blockchain technology and Bitcoin. Uphold (the company formerly known as Bitreserve) also wants to stake its own claim in the transaction marketplace using the blockchain as a basis for transactions into a number of different currencies and commodities.