Cross-border payments have long been floated as one of the best potential use cases for cryptocurrency, but clunky interfaces and costly fees have hindered the expansion of a true blockchain-powered remittance platform.
Jack Mallers, founder and CEO of the crypto platform Strike, is trying to change that. Through a new feature called Send Globally, Strike users can send money between currencies, utilizing Bitcoin as an intermediary. After launching in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana in December, Strike is announcing the expansion of the feature to the Philippines today.
“The ambition for us is to continue to serve monetary functions to the world digitally for the first time ever,” Mallers told Fortune. “We think the lowest-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 the cryptocurrency faster and with lower fees. Strike has an API functionality that allows other companies to employ 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 Globally feature allows users in the United States to load their wallet with U.S. dollars from their bank account and send it to someone in another country in their local currency, with the exchange rate and estimated transfer time displayed at the time of the transaction. Behind the scenes, Strike converts the U.S. dollars to Bitcoin before converting it to the local currency through a partner company, which recipients can deposit in their own bank account.
Because Strike is using trading partners—generally a proprietary trading firm—to bid on the exchange between fiat and Bitcoin, Mallers said that Strike can often get a more competitive rate than having to rely on traditional banking partners.
When Send Globally launched in Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana, Strike partnered with African crypto company Bitnob to help serve as an off-ramp from Bitcoin into local fiat currency. Mallers declined to share engagement numbers from the first month of activity but said the company is seeing surprising use cases, like businesses sending money to each other.
The Philippines was a natural location for expansion: At $35 billion, the country has one of the world’s largest remittance markets, with about a third coming from the U.S. alone. Strike is partnering with the crypto company Pouch.ph to enable transfers between U.S. dollars and Philippine pesos.
Mallers said that Strike hopes to continue expanding the feature, which is dependent on finding local payments partners who agree to a six-step implementation document with the Chicago-based company, a necessary step for creating an off-ramp from Bitcoin into fiat currency.
Cross-border payments have been a goal 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. Strike did not end up helping the Salvadoran government with the implementation, which has been fraught with delays and mismanagement.
Through his new Send Globally initiative, Mallers hopes that the Philippines and three African countries will be the first of many to go online with the feature.
“We’re pretty confident we’re going to add a ton of markets really, really fast,” he said.
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