Yo. Today, I’m excited to share an update around the partnerships I announced at Bitcoin 2022.
There’s been a lot of anticipation and excitement around our announcement, which has been amazing to see, and I wanted to give the community a transparent update. I’ve always believed in building in the open and in collaboration with the community. Part of that is being transparent about our progress, where we do well, and where we can do better.
At Strike, our mission is to build a more financially connected world. We accomplish this by making Bitcoin and the Lightning Network easily accessible and usable. Around a year ago we launched the Strike API. A product built to enable marketplaces, merchants, businesses, developers, and more, to offer faster, cheaper, global payments to anyone, at any time — improving financial access and enhancing financial experiences for everyone in the world.
Earlier this year, at Bitcoin 2022, I announced a series of partnerships that have the potential to completely redefine retail payments. We announced upcoming integrations with Shopify, Blackhawk and NCR, enabling merchants to accept payments over the Lightning Network. Along with that we shared our vision for what partnering with these companies would allow us to do. That vision is real, but my timeline was off. Everyone who knows me knows my ambition has no boundaries when it comes to pushing Bitcoin and Lightning forward. However, a myriad of factors required me to reassess the timeline I communicated at Bitcoin 2022. In hindsight I was admittedly a bit naive, too excited, and lacked the knowledge that I have now. I admit and own that, 100%. These partnerships and developments are huge and they’re simply going to take a bit longer than I initially thought.
First, integrating with third parties often comes with unforeseen technical challenges that are hard to predict. More specifically, integrating a new open payment rail into legacy financial infrastructure adds a whole layer of additional complexity. Second, integrating simultaneously with many different platforms is an immense technical challenge. Third, our ambition and excitement got the best of me and led to what was, in hindsight, a premature announcement. Ultimately, all of these reasons led to delays in our initial timeline.
Just a few short years ago, using the Lighting Network with real money was merely a nascent concept and Strike didn’t even exist. If you would have told me then that the biggest payment companies in the world would be working with Strike and the Bitcoin community on using the Lightning Network I wouldn’t have believed you. So while we’re disappointed that we weren’t able to deliver in the timeline we originally set, we’re incredibly proud of the progress that we’ve made and we have some exciting updates.
Our Shopify plugin has been tested and used by enough merchants to be listed on the Shopify marketplace! This is expected to be publicly available in Q1.
However, both Shopify and Strike agree, a plugin alone does not maximize the potential of a fast, cheap, global payment rail. The user experience will be greatly improved in many ways. We’ve learned so much in working with Shopify and speaking with customers and we’re hopeful we can keep improving the ability to process cheaper, faster, global payments for merchants.
Blackhawk is a privately held business that operates in the prepaid, gift card, and payments industries. Blackhawk offers retailers an alternative payments rail, as opposed to a card network like Visa, to accept Show-To-Pay digital payments from consumers (one of the most popular show-to-pay experiences is your Starbucks application). Blackhawk has partnerships with wallets such as PayPal, Venmo, Klarna, AliPay, WeChat, Moocho, and now Strike!
Our integration with Blackhawk differs from all of their existing partnerships in one small yet powerful way: Blackhawk didn’t integrate the Strike network, Blackhawk integrated the Lightning Network. Like all of our integrations, this allows all Lightning Network wallets to checkout at Blackhawk enabled merchants. That means all Blackhawk enabled merchants can also accept payments from anyone on the Lightning Network! The power here lives in the choice it gives the consumer, the open network effect it gives to the merchants, and the cost, speed, and finality benefits it gives to all.
If you are a consumer and want to conduct commerce in private you are free to do so, if you want to use custodial solutions, more power to you, the choice is yours.
If you’re a merchant and you’re looking to accept cheaper, faster, cash-final payments from a growing set of platforms such as the Cash App, it only takes integrating one network.
We’re currently in our final testing phase and are expected to launch with our first merchant early next year at 50 locations.
When live, we’ll announce more details. More to come.
We’re incredibly excited about the potential of integrating Strike on NCR which will give us access to one of the largest networks of merchants for in-person payments. The latest is that we’re working diligently to make this a reality and we expect to have an update in the near future.
I have more to share here, and I will when I can :)
How Do These Integrations Work?
I’ve seen lots of questions and confusion about the inner workings and functionality of these integrations. Is this just an overdressed PayPal 2.0? Can only Strike users use these new partnerships?
Well, you can think of merchants using Lightning very similar to how merchants use a card network like Visa. I know that may be confusing to read for some, but give me a second.
Ultimately, merchants use the Visa Network to accept money from customers. Does a merchant’s integration with Visa only work with a specific bank? Is PayPal the only app that can check out at a merchant? No, of course not. Any card that speaks the Visa Network is accepted. No matter what the customer uses, if it correctly follows the Visa protocol, it works, and the merchant receives their local currency.
Same goes for our Lightning Network integrations. Our integrations are NOT only for Strike wallets. The QR codes, NFC readers, and whatever other mediums we use to process payments are all open, interoperable, Lightning Network payments.
Anybody using any wallet can pay our partners with whatever wallet they choose.
In fact, this is a far superior consumer experience because the consumer has the ultimate choice over their commerce experience. The Lightning Network is true free market competition, inclusive to all, offers privacy enhancements over legacy technology, naturally suppresses prices, and drives innovation!
What if you’re the biggest bank in the world? Can you check out at our integrated partners? Sure, you just need to be able to make Lightning payments. What if you’re a high-school privacy advocate that built a Lightning wallet with TOR support? Sure, just build the ability to make Lightning payments.
To put it clear and simple:
If you can make a Lightning payment you are integrated with our partners.
You can get a feel for the open network experience by going to strike.me/hrf/ and making a donation. Any Lightning wallet in the world can donate to HRF at strike.me/hrf/!
Anyone can pay with any wallet they’d like, and HRF gets instant, cash-final US dollars for no fees, without needing to account for bitcoin or take on bitcoin’s volatility.
Same goes for all of our partners.
I appreciate the support and the criticism, equally. I appreciate this community, always.
To be overly candid with you guys, it’s even hard for me to watch my own presentations and interviews sometimes. I’m a young founder, more people pay attention to Bitcoin and Lightning than ever before, we’re still so early, and we’re building in the open.
I can certainly be overzealous at times, have made many mistakes in my career, and I’m sure I’ll make some more before it’s all said and done.
With that said, I’ve never been more excited about the work we’re all doing and more confident in the future of Bitcoin, Lightning, and Strike.
I mean, Morgan Stanley wrote a report about how Lightning is better than Visa. That’s fucking nuts.
Thanks for all the support and continued feedback. Bitcoin has no heroes. I hope to make the community proud of all the progress we’re collectively making. 2023 is poised to be a big year for the builders. But if I’ve learned anything, we’ll just have to wait and see!
Much love, Bitcoin ❤️