Strike, the startup best known for helping El Salvador adopt bitcoin, is letting its U.S. users instantly convert all or a portion of their paychecks into the original cryptocurrency. And they can do so without needing their employers to embrace bitcoin or carry it on their books.
The Pay Me in Bitcoin option, introduced Thursday, allows users to direct deposit their salaries to their Strike accounts and choose the amount that is automatically swapped and credited to their bitcoin balance. Strike is not charging a fee for the service.
Strike began experimenting with the feature last year when professional football player Russell Okung used Strike to split his $13 million salary 50-50 between bitcoin and fiat. Several other athletes have since followed in his footsteps. Now the service has been made widely available to Strike’s U.S. customers.
The expanded feature comes less than a month after Coinbase, the leading U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it would let user deposit all or part of their paychecks in crypto or dollars, also without a fee.
However, unlike Coinbase, which lists a smorgasbord of digital assets for trading, Strike is a staunchly bitcoin-focused shop.
Bitcoin as a savings vehicle
Founder and CEO Jack Mallers framed the bitcoin conversion option as a way for users to build wealth and save for things like their kids’ education or homeownership at a time when inflation is rearing its head and interest rates on savings accounts languish just above zero.
“You simply cannot save by holding dollars,” Mallers wrote in blog post.
Mallers made waves this year with an impassioned speech at the Bitcoin 2021 conference about his work in El Salvador, which culminated in President Nayib Bukele’s adoption of the currency as legal tender. In the U.S., the Chicago-based entrepreneur sent a shot across the bows of Coinbase, PayPal, Square’s Cash App and other services by offering bitcoin purchases for nearly zero in fees. Strike is also making the technology behind Twitter’s bitcoin tipping feature open to the world through an application programming interface (API).
The bitcoin conversion feature is available in the U.S. except for New York and Hawaii, a Strike spokesperson said. The company now has money transmitter licenses in five states – Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and Washington, according to a state regulator database – and has said it uses Prime Trust, a Nevada-chartered and regulated trust company, to offer services in other states.