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This week on The Bit, we’re joined by Jack Mallers, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zap and Strike, a payments platform that can send money instantly all over the world. Strike and Bittrex Global recently announced a partnership that will allow Strike users to seamlessly send and receive payments using both fiat money and cryptocurrencies. 

Here are the show notes:

[02:22] My First Bitcoin
[05:41] The Best Money of All Time
[08:14] Switching Up the Game
[14:01] Payments on Steroids
[16:43] Introducing the Lightning Network
[28:02] DeFi: Yea or Nay?

Tom: Hi and welcome to The Bit, the Bittrex Global podcast, where we give you the inside scoop on all things crypto. I’m Tom Albright, the CEO of Bittrex Global. 

Welcome to today’s episode of The Bit, where we sit with some of the hottest names in crypto to give you an insider’s perspective on the fast moving world of cryptocurrency. I’m extremely excited today to be talking with Jack Mallers, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zap and the payments platform Strike. Bittrex Global has recently announced a partnership with Strike to provide Bittrex Global’s technology and infrastructure to help Strike revolutionize the payment space. I’m not going to go into too much detail now since we’ll cover the partnership more with Jack throughout this episode. But again, I’m exceptionally excited for this one. It’s one of the ones I’ve been looking forward to the most, so I hope everyone enjoys it. Without further ado, let me welcome Jack to the podcast. Jack, thanks so much for joining us. 

Jack: Yo, Tom. I’m humbled by the podcast appearance and even more so by the partnership. So thanks for having me. And hello as new business partners. How about it? 

Tom: Yes, that’s right. I’m even more excited about that, to be honest. I love what you guys are doing. And from the second I heard about it, I said this is just the perfect application of cryptocurrency and, you know, really fulfills the vision of Bitcoin and the promise of Bitcoin to bring, you know, billions of people around the world into the financial system. So I just love what you guys are doing and so excited to be working with you. 

Jack: Yeah, I think a really particular interesting point when it comes to Bittrex Global is that what we’re doing at Strike is we’re using Bitcoin, the network, not necessarily the asset. We are agnostic to the price of Bitcoin. We’re just using it as a settlement layer to achieve cash finality instantly, and for free, anywhere in the world and natively digital. 

And as an exchange, you know, the exchange business that Bittrex was brought up on is obviously speculating on the asset, trading. And I think it’s unbelievably cool and forward thinking for your company to be delving and partnering in this space and getting more intimately involved with the network side of things. I think there’s immense opportunity, and I’m so proud to be partners with you guys. And really humbled by the shared vision, excited to see more exchanges in the space delve into the network side of things.

[02:22] My First Bitcoin

Tom: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And it’s really something that comes from our founders, and, you know, they formed Bittrex back in 2014, to advance the adoption of blockchain technology and to, in a lot of ways, be an incubator and thought that an exchange was the best way to provide people access to new products and new use cases and all those sorts of things. 

And I don’t think anyone really foresaw at the time how much speculation there would be and how it sort of evolved into a pure trading platform. But, you know, the mission and the goal has always been to advance the technology and to provide those use cases. So we’re beyond excited from our founders on down to be working with you guys who are actually building those use cases and providing a solution for people around the world. So it’s an amazing next step in the evolution of crypto and blockchain and how it integrates with and in some cases will replace the traditional financial system. 

So I do want to get a little bit of background from you. I know you’ve been involved in crypto for a really long time. You have a great reputation and you really know the space well. But something I love asking our guests, and I’m especially curious to hear from you, is how did you first get interested in crypto? How did you buy your first Bitcoin? You know, what was that introduction and journey like? 

Jack: So I have been in Bitcoin my entire adult life. I got involved in Bitcoin in 2013, believe it or not. 

Tom: That’s so amazing. I love it. 

Jack: Yeah, I was 18 years old. My introduction to Bitcoin, I have an immense cheat code. My cheat code is I have the world’s best dad, and it’s not close. He’s my best friend and he’s the one that got me into Bitcoin, believe it or not

Yeah, Mallers’ family finance history is my grandfather, so my dad’s dad was the youngest chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade. And he designed a lot of these derivative products on top of agricultural commodities. And then my dad was 18-years-old in currency trading pits, looking up to his dad. My dad ended up founding one of the bigger futures brokerages here in Chicago that he sold to Man Financial, and then…so all of the currency commodity, all of this is very native to the Mailers family, and he found Bitcoin and he got it right away. And by the time he explained it to me, I was 18 years old, and I just dropped out of college. And he was like, hey, I don’t know if college is the right thing. I think if this thing works, there’s no cooler career and better place to be. And took his word for it. 

Tom: Well, I see why you say the world’s best dad. 

Jack: Yeah! So that was 2013, almost 10 years now. I can’t believe it. 

Tom: Yeah, well it sounds like innovation and forward thinking in the financial space runs in the family. I do expect, though, that your dad will be upset to hear himself described as the best dad if your grandfather put him on that track. Maybe a little bit of competition? 

Jack: Yeah, I guess they can fight over it.  

[05:41] The Best Money of All Time

Tom: Well, that is so cool to have been in the space for that long and to have been thinking about it and deep diving. That’s really incredible. So, you know, right now, as we’re recording this podcast, we’re seeing just a crazy rally, a crazy bull run, you know, lots of volatility. What are your thoughts on what’s happening in the Bitcoin and Ethereum markets, in particular, and what’s driving these huge run ups in price? 

Jack: So, I think Bitcoin is, very simply put, the best money of all time. That’s a very worn out phrase, though. So here’s the way I like to break it down, is that for the everyday individual that receives and saves in US dollars, they’re operating their life at a loss. The world around them is getting exponentially more expensive, and they cannot keep up. This is defined as asset inflation. Asset inflation is now reaching heights of 15% to 20%. 

And so the way I would explain that is if you’re not getting a 20% raise every single year, you’re operating your life at a loss. Your dream home, the car you want, the vacation you want, the tuition your kid wants to go to school, all of it’s getting 15% to 20%, more expensive, and you can’t keep up. That much is now obvious, painfully obvious now with COVID and the Federal Reserve’s desire to print cash. And so you cannot save and operate your life in US dollars. 

The question then becomes how do you protect your wealth? And that’s a question everyone is asking right now. Do I go into commercial real estate? Do I go into precious metals? Or is there a solution that was engineered for this? This is not a gold bar that we found that planet Earth pooped out. We built this with our hands, we designed Bitcoin for this exact problem. It’s scarce, the monetary supply has been in existence ever since it was invented. And it is the world’s hardest money. 

And I think you’re just seeing people…my life is getting cheaper by the day, because assets around me depreciate in price against my money, because I hold in Bitcoin. If your checking account just holds dollars, and you just save dollars, the world around you is getting more expensive. So I think we’re just seeing people protect the quality of their life in a better, harder asset. And it’s about time. And so it is absolutely insane to see these prices, but it also makes all the sense in the world. And so I’ll end my rant there. 

[08:14] Switching Up the Game

Tom: That is an amazing way to put it from the perspective of anyone who’s looking to get into Bitcoin and what the use case is. It just boils it down so simply. Your US dollar life is getting 20% more expensive every year. And there’s really only one good way to protect yourself against that. And that, like you said, was the money that was engineered to protect you. And it’s amazing to see people starting to, more and more people starting to get that and use Bitcoin to protect themselves. 

So we recently saw and you guys are working with Russell Okung, the NFL player, to have a significant portion of his salary paid to him in Bitcoin. Do you think that that’s something that… well, first off, that’s really an amazing and phenomenal thing, and I love how forward thinking he is, and how involved in the space and that you guys were able to partner with him on that. But do you see that’s something that other NFL players will be doing or should be doing, you know, entertainers and, frankly, all the way down to normal people who are going to work and just earning a salary should ideally be getting paid in Bitcoin. Do you think that’s something that’s going to gain more and more adoption? Or do you think it’s something that people sort of looked at as a gimmick still? 

Jack: Oh, I absolutely think that it’s going to gain more adoption. In fact, I can give you some inside scoop on the celebrities and professional athletes that are hitting me up right now as we’re recording is real. 

What I think is particularly interesting about Russell as a professional athlete, this is so perfect for them, because you’re taught…you know the common hang out with your buddies and they’re like, hey, would you jump off the roof for a million dollars? And, you know, oh, I don’t know, maybe, I may break my leg, I may tear my ACL, but it might be worth it. That’s not that far off from a professional athlete. It’s hey, would you put your body through absolute brutality, tear your ACL, break your legs, blow your shoulder out, get unlimited concussions to the point where you can’t even remember your son’s name for a four year $50 million contract? It’s kind of not that far off from, hey, dude, would you jump off this roof for a bunch of money? These people sacrifice their well being and their bodies for their profession in their craft. And these contracts are fixed amounts over a fixed number of years. So the next guy that signs a five year $50 million contract, if I price in asset inflation, that’s actually a five year $25 million contract, or in five years, the $50 million is going to buy you half as much. However you want to put it, is that we have defined asset inflation that’s only getting worse. 

And so these guys need a way to protect their wealth. And people prey on them. I’ll give it to an asset manager, the real estate agent is going to take care of it but take 20% off the top. Get out of here with that nonsense! We’ve engineered a solution that can protect and preserve your wealth and the quality of your life for you, you could do it yourself. And so I think a payroll product makes all the sense in the world to integrate with Bitcoin. You treat it as a savings account. You need 75% of your paycheck to operate everyday life? Cool, take the other 25% and preserve it and protect your wealth, protect the quality of your life. 

And I think it’s really exemplifying for professional athletes to set that stage. And Russell knows all that. And it’s so cool. And I’m glad to see it picking up and catching on. And I think the price swing is helping. But it’s an overarching point that I think extends to every individual personally. 

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. I could not agree more. And I love seeing that you guys are right in the mix there to provide that bridge for people who maybe have heard about it, but don’t quite understand how to logistically make it work and to enable that for people around the world. It’s fantastic. 

So you’ve described Zap in the past as the Bitcoin neobank. Can you tell us a little bit more about Zap, Strike, the work you guys are doing, and how that fits into providing those services for the professional athletes and musicians all the way down to ordinary people to use Bitcoin to preserve their wealth? 

Jack: Yeah, absolutely. So the way I’m going to describe Strike is, firstly, let’s discuss existing monetary networks in neobanks. So you’ve got Venmo and PayPal, you’ve got Visa, you’ve got Square. These are all monetary networks. Visa is ACH plus the Visa network. Square is ACH plus the Square network. Venmo and PayPal is ACH plus the PayPal network. All these networks do the same things and operate independently of each other and perform financial activity. They define what an individual is within a network, how to send a payment, how to receive a payment. And they all do the same thing. 

Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, this is also a new monetary network. It’s a fascinating one, and it’s open and it’s global. And it actually does everything cheaper and faster than any other monetary network. And so the way I like to describe Strike is in the same sense that Visa is ACH plus the Visa network, Strike is ACH plus the Bitcoin and Lightning Network. We don’t have… there’s no Strike network. And when I say we’re a native Bitcoin neobank, we’re built directly on top of these protocols. 

When I send $10, from Chicago, Illinois, USA, and it arrives in Dublin, Ireland in less than a second and as euros, for no cost, that wasn’t the Strike network. We use the Bitcoin and Lightning Network to do that. So it’s a novel concept of a bank in your pocket that’s built on these new protocols, these new monetary networks, as opposed to the closed loop, bifurcated segregated independent monetary networks that we’re accustomed to. 

[14:01] Payments on Steroids

Tom: Can you describe a little bit more what the Lightning Network is and how it interacts with or relates to Bitcoin and why that’s such a significant advancement? 

Jack: Yeah, the Bitcoin network, as fantastic as it is, came with a few flaws. And I wouldn’t even describe them as flaws. It’s actually just the properties of the system. It’s the way it works… 

Tom: Trade offs that were made.

Jack: Exactly. So we’ve got…one is that is a variable amount of time to achieve transaction finality is that I can broadcast a payment, and it could get confirmed and into the blockchain in 10 minutes, it could take 10 days, and it’s kind of not really up to me. I could bid a very high fee, but that’s just a property of the system. 

Tom: That sounds like sending international wires. 10 days and you never know when it’s going to hit. 

Jack: Right, exactly. But it’s not a diss on Bitcoin at all. It’s a property of the system and it has to be there for a way for it to function. But when you’re talking about, you know, instant payments and stuff, Bitcoin was never designed initially for instant payments. Then the other variable is the cost, is that if I attach a $5 fee on, it’s kind of unclear. If someone bids a $50 fee, then I gotta go bid $51 to get in priority line, right? And so those two variables of transaction finality and cost, Bitcoin wasn’t designed to be a monetary network that can be thought of like Visa. 

And so those were some of the reasons that you didn’t see applications like Strike exist 10 years ago. What the Lightning Network did is it attempted and successfully solved both of those problems is that it gives Bitcoin cash finality instantly, and at virtually no cost. And so, simply put, when you hear that you’re like, oh, my gosh, that is absolutely massive. Now, this new physical digital bearer instrument that is global and operative everywhere in the world, and it’s on 24/7, now has achieved cash finality instantly, and at no cost. I mean, this thing just got a steroid injected into its bicep, right? I mean, now it’s a monster. 

Tom: Best of all worlds. 

Jack: Yeah. And so that’s why we’re using the Lightning Network, how am I getting physical value of dollars over to Europe, before you can blink, and at no cost? I’m using this new network that achieves physical cash finality anywhere in the world, 24/7, 365, at no cost. 

[16:43] Introducing the Lightning Network

Tom: Absolutely incredible. And it really fulfills the promise plus, and the thought of steroids, the best of all worlds. So obviously, we’ve recently announced the partnership between Strike and Bittrex Global and we’re super excited about that. Can you maybe explain a little bit about how the Lightning Network and Strike will integrate with Bittrex Global and how that’s going to add on even more features to make the payment system even more robust? 

Jack: So through our partnership with Bittrex Global, we now have access to all of these countries all over the world. It’s amazingly fascinating. So what we’ve done is we’ve spun up physical Bitcoin nodes and lightning nodes all over the world. And depending on the currency that the user wants, or different regulations and compliance requirements, we have these physical Bitcoin and lightning infrastructure pieces spread across the globe

And so let’s say it is a Sunday night, and I owe a friend of mine in London $25, I can actually send him $25 that will be received as British pounds on a late Sunday night, and it will get there to his cell phone instantly and for free. What happens under the hood is when I initiate a $25 payment, Strike is going to debit my 25 US dollars from my account, and it live trades it, it auto converts it using our proprietary infrastructure into Bitcoin and onto the Lightning Network in real time. And then we’re going to send that real physical value, those Bitcoins that were took, the $25, turn them into Bitcoins, and we’re going to zip it over the Atlantic Ocean. And it’s going to arrive in our UK infrastructure in less than a second and at no cost. And then we’re going to take the Bitcoins and we’re going to convert them into whatever currency the receiver wants, in this case, British pounds. And then we’re going to credit the user with those British pounds. And those British pounds are now spendable with the Strike debit card right away. 

And so that’s under the hood, how it works. You can think of these Bitcoins running across the ocean as like little soldiers carrying out tasks, because then friend in the UK can send money instantly and for free to Central America, and it’ll hit our Central American infrastructure, then Australia, then Japan, and we have physical value that’s able to travel and act as collateral. It’s really the pipes to connect the entire globe. It’s absolutely fascinating. And we’re able to achieve that through this partnership and get the necessary banking relationships, fiat support, handle all the compliance requirements. And that is kind of a little under the hood sneak peek of how it would work. 

Tom: That’s awesome. I love it. I’m so excited to see it in action and rolling out and expanding. I think that this will really revolutionize the world of payments and bring so many more people around the world into the financial system. So it’s going to be incredible. I can’t wait to see it. see it in action.

Jack: I think it’s remarkable and I think the last point I want to make on this topic is that when you think of these monetary networks, like the Square network versus the Bitcoin and Lightning Network, the last point I’ll make is that the Bitcoin and Lightning Network is extraordinarily inclusive. It’s the only monetary network that is operative no matter where you are. 

Is the PayPal network set up in El Salvador, Central America? No, of course not. Is the Bitcoin and Lightning Network? Yeah. Does Bitcoin and Lightning Network operate in El Salvador? Yep. Can I send instant remittances to Central America right now with Strike? Yes, I can. 

And so it’s agnostic to politics and the rest of the world, too. So not only is this a good product to go from Chicago to London with money, but it effectively banks the 3 and a half to 4 billion people that don’t have financial access that we do here in Chicago and in London. And I think that the reach of this product is absolutely massive. It impacts 7 billion people. That’s our target customer audience. And it’s so fascinating to think about it that way, as well. 

Tom: Yeah, it’s actually incredible. And you mentioned if you are saving in US dollars, you’re losing 20%, 15% – 20% of your purchasing power every year. But that’s not necessarily the worst case scenario if you’re saving in fiat money. You know, you could be losing 90% of your purchasing power in some countries, or even more. So having the ability to access from around the world is really game changing. 

Tom: So can I ask just a practical question here? So for all those people who are in El Salvador or London or Dublin, you had mentioned the debit card, but is that the practical way in which they can get fiat out that they need to use to spend on a day to day basis or, you know, even if they just choose to have fiat rather than Bitcoin, from a end users perspective, how does using Strike on a day to day basis look for them? 

Jack: Well, so we connect to all your payment methods. So right now in the US, we actually, we’re well into five figure registered users. And we do millions and millions of dollars worth of volume a month. And we’ve only been in this beta for…we launched our public beta here in the US about six months ago, tremendous success, and my bank account is linked to it. My Chase JPMorgan bank account is linked to it, my Visa debit card is linked to it. And when I want to get fiat out, I just withdraw it like I would any other service, and it gets into my bank account. And then I can go buy coffee, or I can use Strike to make payments with other interoperable services. 

So there are places that allow me to buy apparel, or gift cards and such over the Lightning Network and I never have to leave Strike at all. And eventually everyone will be interoperable with this new monetary network. And you’ll never have to leave Strike. But we do have debit cards coming out. So Q1 for the US, and in Q2, the EU and the UK, and it just gives the user more convenient service. 

So let’s rewind back to the Russell Okung payroll product. You’re talking about a bank in your pocket that you can send your direct deposit to, whatever percent of your paycheck that you want to save, you can allocate to Bitcoin. The rest of it, we give you a functional debit card to spend, you get an account and routing number and you get free and instant international transfers and payments anywhere in the world. That’s an immensely powerful product. 

And so like one example that I have is, it’s awesome, because I can send any amount of physical value anywhere in the world at no cost, why would I pay anyone once a month? Why wouldn’t I pay my employees by the second? So I do. And we wrote a script and my lead engineer on Strike, he is a European citizen, he lives in Europe. And so he wants euros. And so we wrote a script that every five seconds it debits our business bank account, and sends the fiscal value over to Europe at no cost. And he receives euros every single five seconds. And then he’s got a debit card to spend that. So he can every, what, two, three minutes at the pub, that balance is fueling and streaming and he’s got a debit card to just swipe and buy beers. So that’s just kind of an example. With a debit card, you never have to leave, you don’t have to withdraw, you don’t have to deal with that friction. You have like a checking account on steroids.

Tom: Yeah, it’s amazing. I think actually describing it as a neobank in a lot of ways sells it short because there’s a lot of processes and, you know, logistics and things they can do that are just way more convenient for people in a way better product than what we have with existing banks and getting paid once a month or every two weeks and the fees that get charged. It’s absolutely incredible. 

So I know you guys have so much planned for your roadmap for the next three to six months in terms of driving growth and really changing the world, and it’s just unbelievably hard to project out long term in this industry, but I’m going to ask it anyway, where do you see Zap and Strike in five years or ten years? And what’s your vision for the companies and the platform? 

Jack: I would love for Strike to be an enabler of this new monetary network, I would love for financial activity to move to this new monetary network for a bunch of reasons. But I think at the end of the day, no one has a choice, because it’s going to be cheaper, it’s going to be faster, it’s going to be better. And we want to be the number one provider and access point to this monetary network. 

And so this applies to individuals, this applies to merchants, this applies to businesses, this applies to remittances, international fund transfers, online commerce. I mean, there’s a lot of work to do to port over the existing monetary networks onto this new open global one. And so I think the first killer app for the Lightning Network, if you were to give me instant cash finality globally, 24/7, 365, at no cost for a physical bearer instrument, the first thing I would do is ensure that cross border payments are free and instant, and do fun things like stream salaries. So that is exactly what we did. That’s the first thing we did in partnership with you all. And then what’s next is, let’s get merchants the tools. 

So let me let me draw a scenario for you. If Starbucks, if I’m in line at Starbucks right now, and I tapped the guys standing in front of me in line and say, hey, how are you paying for your coffee? He’d look at me and be, what type of question is that? With my Visa card! How are you paying for your coffee, buddy? Right? I mean, we all live right now on one giant monetary network that is Visa. 

Now, if Starbucks became interoperable with the Lightning Network through Strike or whoever else, and it actually is really simple. As the money comes in, we automatically convert it to dollars. And Starbucks never has to touch Bitcoin if they don’t want, they immediately get credit dollars. They’re just using this network to achieve settlement and clearance with their consumer. 

And so if Starbucks starts showing Lightning Network QR codes, well, then the question becomes much more interesting. Hey, how are you paying for your coffee? Oh, I’m using Strike. Oh, I’m using Coinbase. Oh, I’m using this yellow wallet that my nephew built in his art fair science projects. It’s kind of wonky, but it’s cool. And I like supporting my family. It doesn’t matter. You can build your own wallet, and build your own privacy tools, and do everything on your own and pay for your coffee. And I think even envisioning a world like that, it’s so much more powerful to live on an open monetary network. It puts a lot of power in the consumer. You want more privacy? Go get it. The only rule is the protocol specification. And you have to remain interoperable and speak to the protocol. And outside of that, you can use any wallet you want, yada, yada. So after the international funds transfers, I think getting into the consumer merchant space is going to be awesome and fun. And that’s going to be life changing as well, I think. 

[28:02] DeFi: Yea or Nay?

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. And you touched on one thing there that I find just so fascinating about the entire blockchain cryptocurrency industry is that, you know, people can access it in any manner that they choose. To access the traditional financial system, you basically go to Bank of America or JPMorgan or whoever and you take what they have to offer. That’s it. But for cryptocurrency, for Bitcoin, you can go to an exchange, you can go to a wallet provider, you can host your own wallet, hold your own private keys, you know, you can save them in Bitcoin, you can save in Ethereum, you just have, it is completely up to you to customize your own experience. And give yourself the level of control, the level of risk, the level of convenience, all those sorts of things are fully, you know, each user has the choice of how they set up all those things. 

And one of the things I think we’ve really seen in 2020 was the growth of DeFi, and people taking control of their own investing and their own ability to grow their wealth with crypto using DeFi protocols. And, you know, I’m really curious to see what you think about DeFi in general and how you think that’s going to evolve over the next few years? And how that’s going to essentially interact with this new financial system that is being built on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. 

Jack: Yeah, so I, this is where we may be in healthy disagreement. I have to admit, I am not an Ethereum guy. I don’t know too much about it. But my general opinion is I don’t see the same level of value, I guess putting it politely, as maybe some of the other folks of DeFi. I think Ethereum, generally speaking, is still more of an experiment. We’re talking about a 2.0 version that just launched, which essentially states that 1.0 version didn’t really work. 

And there are plenty of metrics to show that Ethereum is being supported in the market cap and all that stuff. And that there is a chance and whatever else. But me personally, I think it’s an experiment. And it’s kind of unclear to me where the value in that experiment lies. 

And so I think the thing about Bitcoin and Lightning is that it works and it’s real and we can deploy this product now at an immense scale. And so that is the reason we built on there. But I know everyone has every right to their opinion, and people can support Ethereum, and that’s totally okay. I don’t want to get into any fighting there. 

Tom: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting that you… yeah, of course, for sure. It’s very true that DeFi is synonymous in a lot of ways with Ethereum at this point, but, you know, there are certainly people taking those concepts, and trying to go either cross chain or on different chains. 

We just did an episode with U-Zyn, who’s the CTO at DFI Token [DeFiChain]. And they’re actually, I think, building on Bitcoin, on the Lightning Network as well. And trying to bring some of the DeFi protocols over, you know, people are building on Solana, and other things like that. 

So do you think that the issue is with Ethereum, or that those principles can be brought over into, you know, something that in your view is more long lasting? 

Jack: I think the overwhelming point here that we were initially discussing is that an open network not only is more powerful, but it always wins and consumes everything around it. There are countless stories of how an open network like, for example, how many people, if you think of Strike similarly to PayPal, how many people are working on the Strike network, quote, unquote, which is really just Bitcoin? A million. 2 million. PayPal can’t employ enough people to compete with that. And I don’t care what their stock price is. 

So the fact that it’s an open network, anyone can be interoperable with it. Someone wants Strike users to be able to pay them, they can spin up a lightning node today, and we don’t have to sign a business agreement, they don’t have to give me a phone call, they can just do it on their own. It’s a totally open network. So that, I think, is fascinating. 

As far as Ethereum and the DeFi stuff, I just don’t fully understand what the value proposition is that Bitcoin doesn’t necessarily have. I get the smart contract and the Turing completeness. I think I, personally, as an engineer, I see that as a security bug, as opposed to something that’s enabling. But we’ll see. I mean, this is the point of the free market, and people being able to build and do things right. And so time will tell ultimately. I’m a fan of humanity, and I work for the betterment of the world. And so I’m not against innovation in any sense. But currently, as it stands, I just don’t necessarily see anything built that Bitcoin, one, can’t do or should do differently, I guess. 

Tom: Well, that’s certainly fair enough. And one of the things that I have to constantly remind myself, and I’m sure it’s even more so for you, having spent your, you know, been in this space for so long and spent your adult life and career in is that we’re still just so early in this industry and how it rolls out to mass adoption. And this is still the cutting edge of technology. So what it looks like in five years, or ten years, or what wins is still wide open. 

And people are going to build things at that point that we can’t even imagine or predict now. So it’s just fascinating to watch. And I think experimentation across a lot of different areas is going to drive a lot of that. So super exciting to be in the space in general.

Jack: Oh, no doubt, I think there’s no better career. And there’s, of course, a lot of monetary upside in being successful in this industry, but name me a career that can give you such upside with wealth and also such impact on the world around you. I mean, I feel lucky to be alive right now. I feel like I’m part of something that’s making the world a better place than when I was introduced to it. And that’s really special. That’s special. I don’t take it for granted. And it’s almost overwhelming at times, the scene and all that we’re doing and we all are involved with and it’s just so fascinating and so cool. 

Tom: I could not agree more. It’s why I love being in the space and why I love working with you and your team and others like you who are just really out there changing the world. It’s phenomenally exciting. It’s great to get up every day and see what’s happening. So I guess I could absolutely cannot agree with you more. 

Well, I think that’s actually a really great spot to end up. It’s been absolutely fascinating. I’m really excited to see what you guys do next and really looking forward to continuing to work with you. So Jack, thanks so much for coming on the podcast and talking with us. Really great to have you and can’t wait to see what comes next. 

Jack: Oh, it’s my pleasure. I’m humbled by being on the podcast. And as partners. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We are changing the world, but we still got a bunch to do. So you and I will talk soon, I’m sure.

Tom: That’s right. Yep. No one said it would be easy, but certainly fun. 

Jack: Yep. Cheers. Thank you. 

Thanks for listening to The Bit, the Bittrex Global podcast. Our guest today was Jack Mallers, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zap and the payment platform Strike. To learn more about Bittrex Global, visit and please make sure to subscribe to our podcast. You can find us wherever you get your podcasts.Thank you for listening and for making The Bit one of the fastest growing podcasts in the world of crypto. I’m Tom Albright, the CEO of Bittrex Global.