Jack Mallers is the founder and CEO of Zap, a Bitcoin investment and payments app that is powered by the Lightning Network (LN). The young crypto entrepreneur and millionaire with an estimated net worth of $50 million is also one of the main characters behind El Salvador’s decision to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021.
Early Life Of Jack Mallers
Jack Mallers was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1994. Interestingly, he is the third generation in his family to go into the finance business.
His grandfather was the youngest chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade while his father was the founder of one of the largest futures brokerages in Chicago.
Mallers attended college at St. John’s University in New York but dropped out after a year to pursue computer programming, which he did at the Starter School – a full-stack coding school in his hometown.
Starter School was where the young prodigy developed an interest in technology and started building computer applications. He built a tool that helped wheelchair users find accessible transportation methods in the city and another app to help personal trainers manage their clients.
Jack Maller’s Role in the World of Cryptocurrencies
Mallers was introduced to Bitcoin by his father in 2013 but he started exploring cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology only a few years later.
In 2017, Mallers realized the potential for combining the security of the Bitcoin network with the faster transaction capabilities facilitated by the Lightning Network (LN). However, he noted that the general Bitcoin user would face difficulties in using the LN.
His idea was to develop an open-source LN user interface that would be largely beneficial to mainstream crypto users who won’t have to depend on a third party to access crypto. This is what gave birth to Zap in the summer of 2017.
What Is Zap?
Zap is a non-custodial crypto wallet with an intuitive UI that could be used to make payments over the Lightning Network.
Mallers originally targeted cannabis dispensaries with the payments app, as many of these businesses had trouble obtaining basic banking services due to the legal complications surrounding marijuana in most US jurisdictions. As a result, they had to revert to operating on a cash-only system.
However, Zap, which was launched in 2018, struggled to find a market among cannabis dispensaries despite serving two clients and pivoted a few times in its early years.
Fast forward to 2019, Zap unveiled Olympus, a fiat-to-bitcoin on-ramp that was intended to make the process of purchasing and transacting using Bitcoin on the LN much more accessible to mainstream customers.
Olympus allowed users to purchase BTC using their bank account, debit card, Zelle, and other payment methods on the go. They could transact using the LN and deposit any funds directly into their wallet.
However, the one issue with Olympus was that it required users to hold their own Bitcoin, which was a barrier with tax implications that Mallers wanted to find a solution to.
Cue, enter Strike.
What Is Strike?
Following reports of the tax complications Olympus’ operational mechanism may cause users, Mallers came up with the idea of completely removing the crypto wallet from the equation.
Instead, users could transact directly with the LN using bank accounts or debit cards, and that too without possessing any prior experience with Bitcoin.
In simple words, users could leverage the Lightning Network using fiat money and it was not even necessary to purchase Bitcoin for the purpose.
Mallers rebranded Olympus as Strike in January 2020. The crypto entrepreneur’s goal with Strike was to lower the barrier to using the LN.
He believed that Bitcoin and the Lightning Network were superior payment protocols that allowed for innovation, financial inclusion, accessibility, and cheaper and more efficient financial services.
Strike’s removal of the Bitcoin custodial model eliminated concerns regarding market volatility as users could hold a USD balance in their account and convert it into BTC at their convenience.
In addition to being able to make instant payments over the LN, Strike enabled users to buy and sell Bitcoin with no added fees. The app also introduced the “Pay Me in Bitcoin” feature that lets users share their Strike account with employers to directly deposit their salaries into it.
Strike lets customers choose what percentage of their salary they would like to be converted into Bitcoin.
Jack Mallers Partnerships
In early 2021, Strike announced Strike Global, a partnership with crypto exchange Bittrex to expand the app’s services to 200 countries and add support for more cryptocurrencies.
The company also collaborated with Prime Trust to custody users’ Bitcoin to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.
In September 2021, Twitter (now X) announced that it would use the Strike API to allow users to tip influencers on the platform with Bitcoin.
Recently, the company revealed that it was working with payments and credit card giant Visa to introduce its clients to Bitcoin.
What is Jack Maller’s Role In El Salvador?
Mallers had grown fond of El Zonte, a project aimed at creating a stable economic system surrounding Bitcoin in El Salvador. This was particularly helpful as Strike was expanding outside of the United States.
Being an advocate for financial inclusivity, which he considers a human right, Mallers identified El Salvador as the prime use case for Bitcoin. His ideas helped secure the country’s citizens’ basic human freedoms and inclusion in the global financial system.
Mallers met several times with President Nayib Bukele and knew first-hand of his plans to make Bitcoin legal tender. Together they discussed several topics, including financial inclusion, open systems, and how Strike could facilitate fast, and zero-cost cross-border payments in fiat and crypto.
During the 2021 Bitcoin conference, Mallers gave a speech about the opportunities Bitcoin would provide to countries. He considers Bitcoin one of the biggest developments in economic history in the last 250 years.
“It’s the most important thing I’ve ever been part of, and likely ever will be”, he proclaimed.
To sum up, Jack Mallers is a visionary leader who has propelled ZAP to the forefront of cutting-edge payment and Bitcoin integration solutions.
In addition to changing the face of digital payments, his vision, hard work, and dedication to developing financial technologies have cleared the path for a more open and accessible financial future.
Under Mallers’ leadership, ZAP keeps pushing the envelope, presenting ground-breaking ideas that transform our relationship with money and enable universal access to financial services.