Just in time to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, global payments provider Align Commerce announced Monday (Feb. 8) the establishment of its China corridor to enable SMBs to both send and receive payments to and from the largest Asian economy.
The firm is offering an “$8 for Eight Days” promotion, where for an eight-day period B2B payments to and from China will only cost a flat fee of $8 (including foreign exchange fees), for all export-import payments to China from the U.S.
“Align Commerce is excited to honor Chinese culture and tradition as we celebrate the Year of the Monkey,” Marwan Forzley, CEO and co-founder of Align Commerce, said in a press release. “The number eight is traditionally a lucky number in Chinese culture, and we’re hoping to spread the luck around and help small business owners save some money with our ‘$8 for Eight Days’ promotion.”
According to Align Commerce, in recent years bilateral trade between the U.S. and China has exceeded nearly $555 billion, making this an ideal time for business in both countries to benefit from the creation of its multi-rail technology. The company’s payment rail to China offers invoicing, real-time payment tracking and brings together the blockchain with traditional payments.
“The Align Commerce platform cuts through time-consuming red tape and excessive fees that unnecessarily burden users of traditional wire services, bringing innovation to a system that is long overdue for an overhaul,” the statement continued.
Last April, the company began testing global blockchain payments as a way to cut down the time and cost required to facilitate cross-border wire-transfers.
The process is relatively straightforward: The individual or business paying an invoice sets up Align Commerce as the payee for a bank transfer in local currency. Align uses a bitcoin exchange to convert the payment into bitcoins, then transfers the bitcoins to a bitcoin exchange local to the business receiving the payment, where it’s converted to the local currency, which is sent on to Align, which deposits the amount into the recipient’s bank, less a 1.9 percent fee, according to Forbes.
By comparison, a standard wire transfer involves more paperwork, more time as payments move between correspondent banks communicating through the SWIFT payments-messaging network, and an uncertain cost, because banks on both ends will profit from the foreign-exchange spread as well as charging for the transfer itself. It’s also never clear exactly where in the process a payment is under the conventional system.
Align’s system allows visibility into the transfer and cuts the time from as much as a week to one to three days, Forzley said. Most of the time is used in transferring funds into and out of banks to feed into the bitcoin rails.