BitcoinBTC has stormed into 2023 but failed to regain its 2021 momentum—though one high-profile investor thinks that could be about to change.
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The bitcoin price has almost doubled since its late 2022 lows, even as a leak revealed a secret Democratic plan for a bitcoin and crypto crackdown, climbing along with the ethereum price despite ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin issuing a stark warning.
Now, ahead of what could be a game-changing bitcoin pivot, the chief executive of bitcoin payments company Strike has said the company will expand its reach to around 3 billion people across 65 countries—asking critics and competitors: “Who’s laughing now?”
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“We think there are billions of people that want a money app with those characteristics and capabilities contrasted to a clouded world of crypto exchanges and hidden, unregistered licensing regimes and 1,000 different coins,” Jack Mallers, CEO of Chicago-based Strike, told Fortune on the sidelines of the Bitcoin 2023 conference in Miami, claiming the expansion will increase the company’s total addressable market to almost 3 billion people.
As well as expanding beyond its current U.S., El Salvador, and Argentina markets, Strike also said it will be moving its headquarters to El Salvador, two years after the country’s president Nayib Bukele announced it would become the world’s first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender.
“Two years ago, people would have made fun of me [for our] headquarters in El Salvador to launch product for three billion people, but now Coinbase is fighting with [Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair] Gary Gensler,” Mallers said. “Who’s laughing now?”
The SEC served Coinbase with an enforcement action-preceding Wells notice in March, citing concerns about alleged securities violations and targetting Coinbase’s spot market, staking service, Coinbase Prime and Coinbase Wallet.
Coinbase supports the trading of hundreds of different cryptocurrencies, including ethereum, which has recently attracted regulatory attention following its transition from bitcoin’s proof-of-stake consensus mechanism to the more energy-efficient proof-of-stake.
“I think bitcoin stands alone, and just how obvious it is that it is owned by nobody,” Mallers said. “Every other instrument in this industry has a founding team, a foundation, and they issued some [tokens] privately and handed them out in auctions before they went live—and that sounds a lot more like a security.”
Mallers told Fortune that Strike picked USDT over Circle and Coinbase’s USDCUSDC, becasue people outside of the U.S. “don’t trust” Circle. “If I’m being totally honest, Circle is built for American institutions.”
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Strike, which uses the secondary layer bitcoin lightning network to offer quicker and cheaper bitcoin transactions, will use the controversial Tether’s USDT stablecoin to facilitate U.S. dollar payments around the world—and hopes to eventually offer its service to everyone in the world.
“Our end goal is to address the 7 to 8 billion people in every single country,” Manuela Rios, Strike’s vice president of product, told Coindesk, adding the company is focused on improving the user experience of the app. “If you are in the United States the apps are gorgeous; there’s a really high bar for design. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when you download apps abroad.”
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