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Meet Jack Mallers, the architect of El Salvador’s Bitcoin project

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The young executive, who made it to Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021, is a college dropout but comes with a rich pedigree in finance. His grandfather was the chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade, and his father was the founder of one of the largest futures brokerages in Chicago. His father introduced him to Bitcoin in 2013.

Meet Jack Mallers, the architect of El Salvador’s Bitcoin project
The Bitcoin boom has produced several innovators and entrepreneurs. But, at the moment, one of the most influential personalities in the world of cryptocurrencies is Jack Mallers. He is the key operational figure behind El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender – the world’s first such national project and one so audacious, almost every Bitcoin non-believer, which includes almost all mainstream financial experts, tipped it to fail.
Twenty-seven-year-old Mallers started Zap four years ago as a payment app for cannabis dispensaries. Zap later transformed into a crypto exchange, launching the Strike app, one of the world’s leading Bitcoin payment apps.
The young executive, who made it to Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021, is a college dropout but comes with a rich pedigree in finance. His grandfather was the chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade, and his father was the founder of one of the largest futures brokerages in Chicago. His father introduced him to Bitcoin in 2013.
El Salvador’s Bitcoin push came after the success of the Strike app in the country, which is built on the Lightning network.
The Lightning Network is a solution built on top of the pre-existing Bitcoin blockchain, which improves its processing speed and scalability. It enables quick, feeless transactions as it processes payments off-chain, decongesting the main blockchain. Such a structure significantly boosts the operating speed and scalability through added layering.
Unlike most Bitcoin influencers, who are seen as brusque and brash, Mallers is a soft-spoken person. After El Salvador announced adopting Bitcoin, Mallers cried in a public address.
“In my opinion, this is one of the bigger developments in economics and emerging markets in the last 250 years. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever been a part of, and likely ever will be,” Mallers later told CoinDesk.
El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin – though the jury is out on whether one can dub it a success yet – aims to save $400 million in remittance payments for the country.
Remittances make up a big chunk of the GDP for Latin Americans—more than 25 percent in the case of El Salvador—as migrant workers go abroad in search of better prospects.
Before adopting Bitcoin, the country had chosen the US dollar as its legal tender. This meant residents would have to visit the nearest Western Union outlet and pay hefty fees to receive the money after forex conversions.
Mallers has also been closely affiliated with the Bitcoin Beach Project as a protagonist of fundamental human freedom, a quality he associates with financial transacting. The project focuses on absorbing the financially excluded people into the payment ecosystem. The El Salvador Bitcoin project will count as his big financial inclusion achievement as 70 percent of El Salvadoreans did not have a bank account previously.
He has also been working on other projects, most recently helping El Salvador design a Bitcoin bond.
After IMF chief Christine Lagarde criticised El Salvador’s move to adopt Bitcoin, Mallers posted a reply.
But unlike seasoned ‘bitcoiners’ who tend to be dismissive of authorities, he went to great pains to articulate why he believes Bitcoin is the “greatest financial tool our species has conceived” speaking to the institute in a language it understands. He also said the IMF need not fear Bitcoin as it is merely a “tool” that will help humanity.
If what Mallers says does pan out, and Bitcoin goes on to transform the world, it will make history, and he will have played one of the most important roles in shaping it.
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