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Strike’s Jack Mallers Orange-Pills The IMF

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On Wednesday’s episode of The What Bitcoin Did Podcast with Peter McCormack, Strike CEO Jack Mallers discussed Bitcoin, Lightning, and how he orange-pilled the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their conversation centered largely on how the Bitcoin and Lightning networks serve as superior methods for escrowing and settling value, both within countries and across borders, compared to legacy financial institutions.    

Last year, Mallers delivered a presentation to the IMF titled “Bitcoin: Disrupting Cross Border Payments” (Mallers changed the title from the IMF’s originally suggested title of “Strike: Disrupting Cross Border Payments?”). In his presentation, he described the “muck” involved with sending cross border payments through legacy financial institutions like Western Union. He identified slow speeds, limited transparency, high costs, lack of interoperability, limited coverage, and limited accessibility as unacceptable issues in the digital age. All of these issues, according to Mallers, can be solved using the Bitcoin and Lightning networks to make cross border payments. 

Following his presentation, Mallers received an email from an executive at IMF, several snippets of which he shared on Wednesday’s podcast with McCormack: “I just wanted to thank you again very much for yesterday’s seminar… Your insistence on leveraging Bitcoin as a network rather than purely an asset was a novel idea and for many of us was extremely appreciated…Personally, I’m convinced you’re onto something essential. That is, leveraging a global settlement asset and monetary network. In short, Bitcoin has replicated the arrangements that make payments very difficult within countries, across borders, and between legacy institutions and your mission with Strike is to deliver an experience to drive that mission forward on top of Bitcoin.” 

Although he conceded that a single presentation would not change the world overnight, Mallers used the email to highlight that there is “an executive at the IMF that now understands that Bitcoin and Lightning allow for a superior cross-border payments experience, which is remarkable. I feel like the world should know that.” In a response to those who think it was unwise for him to share Bitcoin’s “secrets” with the IMF, Mallers had this to say: “we’re not going to change the world because we’re able to obfuscate a secret from the IMF. I’ll sit across from anyone and tell them why Bitcoin is the biggest thing that will happen while they’re alive. I don’t care who you are.”  

During Wednesday’s episode, Mallers also drew comparisons between the internet and Bitcoin. Compared to traditional, pre-internet mediums of communication like newspaper and radio, the internet offered “a superior communications network that was accomplishing the job of all other communications networks…what did the internet do to the traditional communications network? It dematerialized it.” Bitcoin and Lightning, according to Mallers, are doing the same thing to traditional financial institutions like Visa and Western Union. “Western Union can’t allow me to pay for my coffee and Visa won’t allow me to remit money. Lightning does both, and is better and open and global,” said Mallers before adding a challenge, “so you guys, come play on my court and let’s see who can develop the best experience for the consumer. Because I’d bet all my life I can build a better user experience on Lightning than Jamie Dimon.” 

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Daniel is a data scientist who enjoys writing bitcoin and financial content. He is the co-founder of Green Candle Investments, a bitcoin and finance media company.

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