Editor’s note: Headline altered to reflect Metal’s endeavor to bring payments for the unbanked via the bitcoin blockchain.
Hacked discussed with Marshall Hayner the evolution of his startup, called Trees. Once focused on delivering marijuana by drone – a la Snoop Dogg’s big music via drone push – the service has since been put on hold as Hayner develops Metal, a consumer-friendly approach to melding the world of high-risk payments, rewards and blockchain technology.
What’s on the agenda for Metal in the coming months?
MH: We will be unveiling our payment processing platform, which uses blockchain technology to solve a lot of problems in payments. Circle and others have alluded to using Bitcoin, but their models are not really seamless and don’t incentivize anyone to participate in the blockchain network powering Bitcoin. Rather they are money transfer services with bitcoin exchanges where you can buy marked up bitcoins. We intend to go beyond our competitors, linking credit and debit to our system to send payments, attaching a prepaid debit card, and using a proprietary patent pending system – so our users are charged minimal to no fees. This should incentivize the use of crypto. We also clear payments immediately, thanks to crypto-currency.
Last time we spoke, you were considering a marketplace. How has the model evolved?
MH: We started working on a marketplace and payment processor, and Gateway helped us to realize that we were doing too many things at once. They advised us to focus on logistics, the marketplace or payments. We know payments is a struggle for all high-risk industries industry. This is why we believe bitcoin plays a big solution for the unbanked.
Some are lucky and get banks if they have connections, but the relationships are tenuous at best. Most dispensaries do not want to deal with digital currency because of price fluctuations, legal status and taxes. But they would like to benefit from some of what it has to offer.
What is Metal’s product currently?
MH: We started building this platform, “Metal,” not just for the unbanked, but for everyone to send and receive payments and get rewarded. We are targeting digital currency enthusiasts, mainstream consumers and small businesses in high-risk areas that services like Square and Stripe don’t serve.
Another problem those services have is that they are not out of the box. We plan on creating an out of the box payment solutions platform that does not require high-risk merchants spending weeks or months to find a merchant processor. Because people don’t necessarily understand Bitcoin, we’ve created a friendly system that pegs digital currency to fiat value to neutralize price fluctuations. We also have incorporated a reward system for when users send and receive payments. We are using multi-signature technology with bitcoin as well as omni layer and other alternative cryptocurrencies.
What’s the goal of the platform?
MH: We want to realize the original goal of PayPal, and that is to freely send encrypted money from anywhere in the world with nothing more than an email address or a phone number for zero fee.
Is the platform tailored only for high-risk industries?
MH: Metal is not solely focused on high risk, we are however targeting this area as many are unbanked. The ability to invoice for digital currency in a friendly way through credit card – that’s something not yet available out of the box, for anyone.
We are developing Paypal functionality, linking a debit card, the ability to buy gift cards, virtual credit cards, yet with freedom of bitcoin and digital currency. We are also going incorporate a rewards aspect.
Traditionally, you are paying a processing fee. With PayPal, you’re paying high rates, paying three percent to six and a half percent to send money. High-risk processors charge as much as 7-10%. We are building a system proprietary and patent pending to process for nothing or in some cases get an extra 5-10% in rewards.
Change needs to happen from the bottom up, from the consumer and retail level. Imagine a system with the benefits of PayPal style transactions without the stress of holding onto funds in a way where you have to trust one centralized entity with the keys.
Featured image from Shutterstock.