Strike, a digital payments platform that uses Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, has announced its expansion into Guatemala to provide a low-cost and secure cross-border payment service to Latin America.
Many people in Latin America rely on remittances from abroad, and Strike is offering an alternative to traditional remittance providers by partnering with Osmo in Guatemala to enable transfers from U.S. dollars to local currency via Bitcoin.
This partnership contributes to expanding financial access in the country by allowing Osmo customers to cash out their Bitcoin balance at participating retail locations and use it to pay at more than 250 in-store locations and online merchants. The use of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network offers faster, cheaper, and more accessible digital payments to people globally, particularly in countries with a high number of unbanked individuals.
This latest effort is part of Strike’s push to expand into remittance markets around the world. To date, Strike has expanded to 11 countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Nigeria.
Strike’s product is different from traditional remittances in several ways. The company’s digital payments are almost instantaneous, in contrast to traditional remittances, which can take several days or even weeks to complete.
Furthermore, Strike doesn’t rely on intermediaries like banks and money transfer operators, which can charge high fees for their services. Instead, it converts dollars into bitcoin, which is sent via the Lightning Network to a third-party partner operating in the recipient’s country. That partner then converts the bitcoin into local currency, which is sent directly to the recipient’s bank, wallet, or mobile money account. This way, the fees are significantly lower, making it a more affordable option for people who need to send money across borders.
Interestingly, Bitcoin is acting as an intermediary currency in this case, when the whole point of Bitcoin is to replace local currency. For example, Bitcoin was made the native currency of El Salvador, but so far it seems that is it has not caught on like intended. Nevertheless, use of Bitcoin as a gateway currency may in the end lead to its full adoption as a real currency.