The crypto app Strike on Thursday announced a major expansion of its services, powered by a new partnership with the payment processing platform Checkout.com, that will allow users in more than 65 countries to buy Bitcoin directly with their debit card.
One of the key challenges facing crypto providers is allowing users to move between fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which require payment rails like wire transfers and ACH transfers.
In an interview with Fortune, Strike founder and CEO Jack Mallers said Strike’s long-term goal is to be the “Bitcoin company for the Earth,” with global payments serving as a core feature.
The innovation of crypto was creating payment rails that operate 24/7 and without the friction of a banking system separated by international borders. Ideally, anyone could send any amount of money to anyone else at any time.
The issue, of course, is that people need to own cryptocurrencies in the first place. For most people, that ownership comes from on-ramps like exchanges or wallets, where users purchase Bitcoin with fiat currency.
Even if someone owns Bitcoin, its capacity as an actual currency is limited, with few merchants around the world accepting it as payment. As a result, crypto platforms also require off-ramps to trade tokens back into fiat currency.
Founded in 2019, Strike has been limited by financial restrictions that would enable users to buy and sell Bitcoin. While its app is available to download in more than 65 countries, users are limited to sending Bitcoin and the stablecoin Tether between each other, with only select customers able to trade back and forth into fiat currency.
Strike, which raised an $80 million funding round in September 2022 led by the Bitcoin-focused asset manager Ten31, has over the past year introduced new products to expand on- and off-ramps into fiat, including its Send Globally, where users in the U.S. can send dollars to different markets like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines. Recipients receive the transfer in their own local currency, with Bitcoin serving as an intermediary. Strike’s long-term goal is to facilitate cross-border payments, or remittances, between countries around the world using Bitcoin.
The partnership with Checkout.com enables a new payment rail for Strike, allowing more users to buy and sell Bitcoin using the app. Users outside the U.S. will also now be able to originate payments between currencies via the Send Globally feature.
Checkout.com has previously worked with crypto companies, although it cut ties with the exchange Binance in August over money laundering and compliance concerns.
Speaking with Fortune, Mallers said Checkout.com is providing a card network gateway, meaning it brokers relationships with the likes of Visa and Mastercard. Checkout.com itself is not doing the fiat-to-Bitcoin conversions, but instead will serve as an alternative payment rail to wire transfers, ACH, and card processing already available in the U.S, opening up the Bitcoin on-ramp to users globally.
Mallers said Bitcoin purchases and withdrawals will not be subject to daily limits outside of its typical fraud prevention system, which monitors new users and large withdrawals, although he emphasized that any prices will be locked in by transactions even if they are delayed.
The launch still comes during a time of turmoil for the crypto industry. Strike moved custody—or holding its crypto assets—in-house in June after the bankruptcy of Prime Trust, its former custodian.
Trust in the crypto ecosystem has also been rocked by the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who was convicted by a federal jury of seven criminal counts in early November related to the collapse of his crypto exchange.
With young crypto phenoms like Bankman-Fried and Terra’s Do Kwon unveiled as fraudsters, the 29-year-old Mallers said that Strike’s commitment to Bitcoin and regulation is only driving its expansion.
“As more companies around the world go bankrupt and go to prison, we get more demand because it’s almost like a game of last man standing,” Mallers told Fortune.