Jack Mallers, the founder and CEO of Zap Solutions, a Bitcoin payments start-up that uses the Lightning Network, says that the company’s platform, Strike, now enables fast direct transfers of U.S. dollars to banks and mobile money accounts in the Philippines.
On 6 December 2022, Strike announced its “Send Globally” feature, which enables instant, low-cost payments to Africa. Strike’s Send Globally is available to all Strike users in the U.S., with initial coverage for Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana.
Mallers had this to say at the time:
“High fees, slow settlement, and lack of innovation in cross-border payments have negatively impacted the developing world. With exorbitant fees to transfer funds in and out of Africa and incumbent providers halting services, payments companies are struggling to operate in Africa and people cannot send money home to their family members. Strike offers an opportunity for people to transfer their US dollars easily and instantly across borders.“
According to Strike’s press release, to enable instant payments to Africa, Strike partnered with the African payments platform Bitnob. Using Lightning rails, Send Globally allows users to send money instantly to Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya with no transaction fees. Payments are converted into the local currency and deposited directly into a recipient’s bank, mobile money, or Bitnob account.
In a series of tweets posted on Tuesday (31 January 2023), Mallers explained why this is a significant development for the Philippines market, which is one of the largest remittance markets globally, with remittances accounting for 9% of its GDP, or over $35 billion annually, with $12.7 billion coming from the US alone.
According to the World Bank, the average cost of remittances to the Philippines is 4.57%, with the money taking “days to weeks” to arrive. Despite the large volume of remittances to the country, over 50% of its residents are unbanked, despite nearly 2/3 owning a mobile phone. This highlights the “unmet needs and opportunities for financial inclusion.”
Mallers believes that Bitcoin has the potential to address these issues, as it acts as a superior payment rail for the world, offering an open, global, instant, and cheap settlement network. He argues that legacy payments are slow, exclusionary, and lack the level of innovation needed to service the world, especially the underbanked. On the other hand, according to Mallers, Bitcoin has the ability to improve on the usual cross-border experience and bring in those people who have been ignored by legacy systems.
On 5 January 2021, Mallers announced at Miami’s Bitcoin 2021 conference that El Salvador was planning to make Bitcoin a form of legal tender. During his talk, an emotional Mallers presented a recorded video message from President Bukele and read out a small passage from the proposed bill. Mallers went on to say that his firm would be opening an innovation center in El Salvador with the help of Blockstream.
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