The Company that was Creating Tokens even Before Tokens were a Thing
Finance Monthly caught up with Alex Corral, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of preCharge Risk Management Solutions. Founded in 2003, preCharge has since protected thousands of the world’s largest merchants, including Sony Entertainment, Footlocker, BassPro and many other brand name clients. Below Alex tells us more about it. Tell us a bit about […]
Finance Monthly caught up with Alex Corral, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of preCharge Risk Management Solutions. Founded in 2003, preCharge has since protected thousands of the world’s largest merchants, including Sony Entertainment, Footlocker, BassPro and many other brand name clients. Below Alex tells us more about it.
Tell us a bit about the technology and solution that PreCharge offers.
Since our inception, our technology has protected merchants. If you purchased from a major brand name online, there is a good chance that preCharge reviewed the order. Our goal was always to make identity validation seamless and in most cases, the millions of people we monitored never even knew. For over a decade, we worked with merchants to understand their tools, their needs and their technologies, and those merchants supplied us with their internal processes, as well as with millions upon millions of consumers, which lead to the creation of one of the most advanced identity verification tools online. While merchant service is a fickle industry, and merchants often change providers every 18 months, our average merchant was on board for upwards of five to ten years. Our goal was simple – verify the consumer without the need for them to contend with sending in their ID, calling for verification and jumping through hoops. We are now taking that same technology and offering it freely to consumers in an open-source, stable, audited and compliant solution. Our goal is to offer consumers a way of transacting with each other and not having to worry about whether who they are talking to is legitimate. We do this by offering everyone a free preCharge Wallet, which unlike traditional digital currencies, is centered around a person’s email address. From there, we validate the consumer, and in 99% of the cases, the consumer doesn’t even need to send in their ID or other personal information because we are able to use the various data points to track who they really are. In the rare 1%, we will simply ask for some verification through our third-party companies, but preCharge will never see your information. Once a person has a wallet, they can basically ping other users with our utility token; think digital currency. An advantage is that while the wallet does have a unique alphanumeric code like traditional tokens, the core is an email address, so anyone with an email address can either send tokens to another user or simply use the service to validate their identity. We are rolling out an oAuth technology that will allow merchants to freely use the service, validate consumers or even transact business, essentially taking what merchants paid millions of dollars for year after year and giving it away for free. Our feeling is that our merchants help build this network, the consumers are the network; why not give it back to them for free?
What makes PreCharge’s solutions unique?
While there are literally thousands of token options out there, no other is as heavily focused on compliance, auditing and openness as preCharge is. When it comes down to it, someone will become the leader in the token arena, why shouldn’t it be a company that has been building the technology for over a decade? We were helping create tokens even before it was a thing in 2006, with Sony Entertainment and Galanet, and worked with them for years on their in-house game tokens. My guess is that when you consider our history, our partners and our resources, preCharge will become the leading transactional token on the market.
PreCharge has been helping merchants and consumers all over the world before people knew anything about cryptocurrencies – can you tell us more about the history of the company?
I had just sold my marketing company and moved to New York City. In 3 years, we had gone from start-up to over 30,000 clients, and were one of the leading companies in PPC in 2001. During my time there, most of our operations were handled by leading consultants or by our people in-house, but the one thing I enjoyed working on was processing the actual credit cards, I even created a script where every time we would process a credit card, it would sound like a cash register. We eventually had to take the script down, which is a good thing, I guess. Over this period, I had personally processed tens of thousands of credit card transactions and over time, I noticed various patterns and figured, why not automate it? Most consumers are good, honest people, but our job was to focus on the bad actors, those looking to harm others and then simply stop them. I met several people who really liked the idea. We then were able to gather 40 investors, and preCharge grew. Over the years, the system adapted and changed but the goal always remained the same: to seamlessly allow commerce. The sad part is that whenever we would find a bad actor that was a merchant, they would sue to suppress the information, so we were often the target of lawsuits and various litigation issues. Those matters just became a cost of doing business. We put a lot of focus on compliance, audits, third-party reviews and ensuring compliance, and plan to continue that, and with this transparency built into our DNA, people will learn to trust digital currency and those behind it.
Have you always wanted to be the CEO of preCharge?
No – my goal was never to be the Chief Executive Officer; I am more of a hands-on person. We had hired two CEOs in our past and sadly, the last one nearly destroyed the company. Working with my team and our people, I am doing what I can to be the kind of CEO people can be proud of, and hope to continue to do that until preCharge reaches the point where a more experienced and savvy CEO comes along.
What do you think the future holds for Blockchain and cryptocurrencies?
I find most things in life are evolutionary, meaning they are bound to happen. It’s pretty easy to project – space travel, quantum computing, digital currency, all inevitable solutions. What most people tend not to realise is that we’ve always had digital currency, as long as people transacted business digitally. When you send money through a Money Transmitter like Western Union or use your credit card online, you are in fact doing it digitally. The only difference with cryptocurrency is that it’s open and secure, for all to see. People lost trust in the closed loop natures of payment systems and frankly, I don’t blame them. I have first hand witnessed some pretty horrific things banks do, and frankly, it’s sad. Digital currency is an absolute; governments and many banks are trying to suppress it, but you can’t. The very nature of digital currency is that it’s open and secure; it’s just applying value to one form of digital currency over another, and as it stands, people will ultimately find that they can trust an open source and public system over any government or bank, which is what everyone ultimately wants. preCharge is simply the medium to make that happen.
What lies on the horizon for PreCharge?
We are working to build out a partner network, where people can train and educate others on financial management and digital currency. We plan to focus a lot on teaching people – from high school students, all the way up to regulators, as to what digital currency really is. We want to show people that it’s there, it’s real and although you may not be able to touch it, it’s the very thing governments have been doing for decades. We already have several classroom visits set up, and are looking to build out more. We have a number of online certifications planned, where people can learn about it online in their free time. Ultimately, we want to educate people on what it is and what it is not. Not so much teach people about preCharge but rather, what is Blockchain technology, what is digital currency and why is it so important. Ultimately if we can do that and prove to people that it’s real, then maybe they will find they can trust an open system as a means of validation, and hopefully the solution they ultimately trust is preCharge.
I am happy to see the industry starting to mature, and we plan to be there when they graduate!