Jack Mallers the project lead at Zap, announced yesterday the groups new product, ‘Strike’. Strike, not to be confused with a product of the same name by fellow Lightning dev group, Acinq, is a Fiat to Lightning Payments App built on top of Olympus, an infrastructure layer built by the Zap team.
“Olympus was initially designed as a Lightning-enabled fiat ramp, to allow users to buy bitcoin inside of their existing Zap wallet. It was our answer to how we scale Lightning to millions of users. However, as we tested, tinkered, tried, failed, and most importantly learned, our product evolved.”
Olympus, while ambitious, provided a solution to the wrong question according to Mallers. It reduced friction in onboarding bitcoin to the lightning network but not when onboarding users onto lightning. This realisation shifted the vision and lead to the creation of Strike, moving the project towards payments and a focus on UX rather than simply just introducing another way of acquiring, storing and holding bitcoin. This new direction was further informed and refined through user testing where the team reported a few behavioural issues:
“Frequently when testing, users would buy bitcoin delivered over Lightning to their Zap wallet, and shortly after price would move. We ran into a scenario with users where the bitcoin price fluctuated up or down 5% after the initial purchase.”
As a result users were less likely to spend their coins and were more likely to hold them in the hope of them accruing value. Strike then is designed to be minimalist in nature, separate from Zap but also complimentary.
Users can purchase bitcoin directly to their own Lightning wallet through and sell back into fiat with Strike, or just use it to make lightning payments without ever directly touching bitcoin.
“Using Strike requires the following: a debit card or bank account. That’s it; no wallet, no node, no channels, no swaps, no liquidity management, no anything.”
In order to run such a service Zap have partnered with liquidity providers and banking partners to handle requests made through Strike. As it stands Litecoin is currently the only other cryptocurrency supported by Zap and can be accessed within the desktop version of its application. Given the similarity in the codebase between the two, extending support into strike would not require too much work, however it is also not something that is really needed for Litecoin at this moment as it has yet to run into any scaling issues or network bottlenecks.
What is perhaps more interesting are the opportunities that are opened up by the Olympus communication layer and its implications when it comes to trading and seamlessly moving value over these networks for remittance payments etc. It is perhaps best then to think of this as a piece of infrastructure rather than a product per se that will go some way to helping effectively and efficiently sclae usage of Lighting for the layman.
“We aren’t just changing how Bitcoin looks, but also how it feels. We’re changing a consumer’s relationship with Bitcoin and Lightning, how it is used, and how it is viewed. We’re opening up new ambitions, new ideas, new possibilities, and a new, mainstream audience.”