We are in an unprecedented era of scientific discovery and technological innovation. Space travel is about to become a commercial luxury, CRISPR may soon eradicate congenital deafness, and it seems more and more likely that vehicles will be driving humans.
Which is probably a big part of why Jack Maller's Strike App has been able to silently create a revolution over night.
For those interested in downloading it for themselves, snag it here: https://strike.me/
If you've now downloaded the app, you're probably saying to yourself some variation of:
"It's an app... It goes on your phone... It looks just like every other app on your phone... What's the big deal?"
Here is the honest to goodness truth, and once you understand what it means, it will change the way you look at payments: Jack Maller's Strike App is the promise of a decentralized, instantly settled, global payment network run on Bitcoin, delivered today. No banks are necessary. No cross-border fees are incurred. You can send money to anyone, anywhere, and in the currency of their choosing. All via the Lightning Network.
No gimmicks. This is the real deal. And you don't have to purchase cryptocurrency to use it. Send USD to someone in the UK and it will show up in their app as GBP. They can then immediately send it to their local bank for zero fees. Real money in hand.
If you aren't sufficiently impressed, you aren't sufficiently educated on what this means.
And before you go thinking this is a Venmo knockoff, try sending a payment between two countries with the Venmo app. It can't be done.
You could use PayPal - but the settlement wouldn't be instantaneous. Just as if you were wiring money between two different banks, your actual payment isn't fully accounted for days, AND they take a chunk to facilitate the transfer.
There's a good reason for this lengthy settlement time and overvalued service.
Every bank transaction that takes place, both within and beyond a country's borders, requires a handful of intermediary banks to validate the transaction. If you buy a cup of coffee, the transaction record shows up immediately on your statement, but will likely say "pending" for days while the intermediary banks balance their sheets.
Needless to say, this is an incredible amount of energy for something so minor as purchasing a caffeinated beverage. Think about it - entire brick-and-mortar institutions built and run to make sure your coffee purchase between you and your favorite café is legit.
The entire prolonged process betrays how hopelessly out of date our financial rails are.
What business do those intermediary banks have with you, your local bank, and the person you're paying for your coffee? The larger banks validating your purchase of bubble gum on a Saturday night might not even be in the same state as you. Hell, they might not even be in the same country.
You know you're good for your money. The barista knows you're good for it, because you're there every day. The money is supposedly "digital" because you're using a Visa card. And yet, when you look at your statement tomorrow, it still says "pending".
Meaning not yet validated.
Meaning awaiting the validation of a series of old financial institutions that have nothing to do with you and your life.
Institutions that are taking a cut of the pie. The pie you're buying the ingredients for and expending the energy to cook - they're taking a slice of it, every time.
Enter Bitcoin, left stage, like some kind of extra-terrestrial hero (and Satoshi Nakamoto may have been a little green man - who knows?)
Bitcoin allows for near-instant (if you can wait 10 minutes) settlement.
In fact, all cryptocurrency shares this property - what you receive from another wallet is 100% there, and not pending another series of institution's approvals. The process is commonly referred to as "trustless". People say things like, "don't trust, verify."
The truth is, unlike your bank, there's no central institution at the helm. Bitcoin is executable code, guarded by a decentralized network that cannot be corrupted without an incredible cost (i.e. shutting down the internet around the entire world).
Your account balance is immutably protected on the blockchain at all times. It's accounting and security for the people, by the people.
If a bank's servers crash during a catastrophe, there's no recourse.
With Bitcoin, because all transactions are recorded on all participating nodes of the network, no single crash or series of crashes will affect the contents of your wallet.
BTC offers a global financial system that doesn't require the trust of institutions, whose records are open to anyone with an internet connection.
Although numerous other cryptocurrencies offer faster and cheaper transactions, Bitcoin is a trusted store of value (for reasons that we don't wish to go into detail here - it's a serious rabbit hole).
The real complication of using Bitcoin as final settlement between institutions is not the volatility, but the fact that native Bitcoin doesn't scale well in terms of transactions per any unit of time.
For context, Bitcoin can currently accomplish something like 4-5 transactions/second, whereas Visa can accomplish almost 2000/second. When you do the mental math on this, you'll quickly see that Bitcoin in its true form cannot be used for everyday purchases. And there are very good reasons for this (which is another absolute rabbit hole - but checks out). This is why the Lightning Network was created. It offers a solution for using Bitcoin that scales.
The amount of time and energy recuperated by this process is nothing short of remarkable. All of those banks and institutions that are taking cuts out of your transactions are no longer necessary.
Still wondering what this all means? Don't take our word for it - listen about the Strike App and the Lightning Network from Jack Mallers' recent interview on the What Bitcoin Did series with Peter McCormack.