Strike, the Bitcoin-powered payments app, has set its sights on becoming a global leader in crypto-based transactions, akin to Venmo or Cash App. In a recent announcement, led by 29-year-old entrepreneur Jack Mallers, the company revealed its expansion plans to cover 65 new markets around the world. This development is in addition to its existing operations in the United States, El Salvador, and Argentina.
During an interview in Miami with Fortune, Mallers highlighted the consumer-oriented features of the Strike app, which facilitates seamless Bitcoin and Tether transfers through a frictionless onboarding process. He emphasized that billions of individuals are seeking a financial application with such attributes, as opposed to navigating the complex world of crypto exchanges and countless cryptocurrencies.
Mallers also expressed confidence in Strike’s Bitcoin-first approach, particularly at a time when the U.S. crypto industry is grappling with regulatory uncertainties. He argued that Bitcoin’s distinct characteristics, including its decentralized nature and absence of a founding team or private token issuance, set it apart from other instruments in the industry that potentially fall under securities regulations.
While Strike currently follows a regulation-first strategy in the U.S., the company is actively pursuing a BitLicense to expand its services in New York. Mallers attributed the company’s expansion into global markets partly to its relocation of the global headquarters to El Salvador. The country, which passed a digital assets law earlier in the year, has established a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. Strike was among the first companies to receive a license under the new regime, along with Bitfinex.
Mallers’ connection to El Salvador and its President, Nayib Bukele, who made Bitcoin legal tender in 2021, played a significant role in Strike’s decision to establish a presence in the country. Although Strike initially participated in the development of El Salvador’s Bitcoin experiment, it later scaled back its involvement due to early challenges and slow adoption.
Despite reports of limited Bitcoin usage among businesses and residents in El Salvador, Mallers pointed out alternative metrics, such as increased tourism, as indicators of the positive impact Bitcoin has had. He believes that Bitcoin has provided hope for the country, emphasizing that merchant adoption alone does not define its success.
Strike’s future objectives include strengthening its connections to banking services that enable customers to exchange Bitcoin for fiat currency. Presently, customers in the new markets will only be able to receive Bitcoin from other users, but Mallers plans to introduce new features, including a debit card, later this year. Additionally, Strike faces challenges related to network congestion and higher fees for Bitcoin transactions due to increased demand for new products. Mallers, however, asserts that Bitcoin is functioning as intended and dismisses claims that congestion negatively affects emerging markets.
Another noteworthy feature offered by Strike is “Send Globally,” which permits users to transfer between USD and other currencies using Bitcoin as an intermediary. Currently available in twelve countries across Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, this feature bridges the gap between different currencies.
Notably, Strike holds dollar balances in Tether, a dollar-pegged stablecoin that has faced criticism for its opaque accounting practices. Mallers explained that the decision to use Tether was driven by demand from users in the Global South, who exhibit greater trust in Tether compared to alternatives like Circle and Coinbase’s USD Coin, which are perceived as catering primarily to American institutions.
Strike’s expansion signifies a pioneering effort to build an app that enables individuals worldwide to transact with one another using Bitcoin. Mike Brock, CEO of TBD, a Bitcoin-focused division of Jack Dorsey’s financial technology company Block, expressed support for Strike’s endeavor. He emphasized the importance of a competitive marketplace and multiple companies striving to advance decentralized ecosystems.