Cross-border payments have long been touted as one of the best potential use cases for cryptocurrencies, but clunky interfaces and expensive fees have hampered the spread of a true blockchain-powered remittance platform.
Jack Mallers, the founder and CEO of the Strike crypto platform, is trying to change that. Through a new feature called Send Globally, Strike users can send money between currencies, using Bitcoin as an intermediary. After launching in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana in December, Strike today announces the expansion of the feature to the Philippines.
“The ambition for us is to continue to serve monetary functions to the world digitally for the first time,” Mallers said. Fortune. “We believe that the low hanging fruit is cross-border payments.”
Strike employs the Lightning Network, a Layer 2 protocol built on top of Bitcoin that allows users to send cryptocurrency faster and at lower fees. Strike has API functionality that allows other businesses to use its Lightning functionality (Twitter is a client) along with a wallet that allows consumers to transact with each other.
The company announced an $80 million Series B in November.
Send Globally marks Strike’s foray into remittance payments, an industry notorious for predatory companies like MoneyGram and Western Union that charge exorbitant fees for people to send money between currencies.
As Mallers explained, Strike’s Send Global feature allows a user in the United States to load their wallet with US dollars from their bank account and send it to someone in another country in their local currency, with the exchange rate and transfer time estimate displayed on the screen. time of transaction. Behind the scenes, Strike converts the US dollar to Bitcoin before converting it to the local currency, which the recipient can deposit into their own bank account.
Because Strike is using trading partners, typically a proprietary trading firm, to bid on the fiat-Bitcoin exchange, Mallers said Strike can often get a more competitive rate than having to rely on traditional banking partners.
Courtesy of Ford
When Send Globally launched in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana, Strike partnered with African crypto company Bitnob to help serve as an on-ramp from Bitcoin to local fiat currency. Mallers declined to share engagement numbers for the first month of business, but said the company is seeing amazing use cases, such as businesses sending money to each other.
The Philippines was a natural place for expansion: At $35 billion, the country has one of the largest remittance markets in the world, with about a third coming from the US alone. Strike is partnering with cryptocurrency firm Pouch.ph to allow transfers between US dollars and Philippine pesos.
Mallers said that Strike hopes to continue expanding the feature, which is contingent on finding local payment partners that agree to a six-step implementation document with the Chicago-based company, a necessary step to create an exit from Bitcoin to fiat currency.
Cross-border payments have been a focus for Mallers for several years. He previously touted Bitcoin as a potential tool for remittances when he introduced Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele at a Bitcoin conference in Miami in 2021: the country would become the first to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. The strike did not end up helping the Salvadoran government with implementation, which has been plagued by delays and mismanagement.
Through his new Send Globally initiative, Mallers hopes the Philippines and the three African countries will be the first of many to go online with the feature.
“We’re pretty sure we’re going to add a ton of markets very, very quickly,” he said.
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