Last month, Bitcoin Lightning startup Strike announced it would be working with the world payment giant Visa. Now, another startup in the same vein, LastBit, which just launched its app in beta, will be going through the same Visa Fast Track program.
This partnership will eventually make it possible for users to pay for items priced in U.S. dollars – but using bitcoin (BTC). LastBit founder Prashanth Balasubramanian told CoinDesk the company will also be releasing an app that works with euros in “a few weeks.”
LastBit’s end goal is to allow users to make Lightning payments to pay for just about anything. The user pulls up the LastBit app, loads bitcoin into it, then has instant access to a digital debit card for sending bitcoin payments. When the user sends a bitcoin payment, the vendor gets euros or dollars on the other side.
Bitcoin’s Lightning Network helps make bitcoin payments faster and cheaper. A few shops here and there accept Lightning payments, but they’re still not nearly as widely accepted as normal bitcoin transactions.
Ultimately, LastBit wants to allow bitcoin users to walk into any shop and make a purchase with bitcoin, regardless of whether or not the merchant accepts it.
“We simply want to see the masses using bitcoin on a day-to-day basis. To do this, we have engineered arguably the most seamless interoperability between bitcoin and fiat, on top of the Lightning Network, that caters to the needs of both new and experienced users alike,” Balasubramanian told CoinDesk.
European and US expansion
Toward that goal, they’re working in both Europe and the U.S. to open up the possibility of sending bitcoin payments to vendors.
Funded by Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, crypto exchange Binance and database creator MongoDB, among others, the startup cut its teeth in the University of California, Berkeley’s accelerator program.
Now, as a “small company without millions in the bank,” LastBit has found Visa’s Fast Track program to be a good fit, said Balasubramanian.
“The Visa FastTrack program appeared to solve these problems for us to get to market faster and this was why we applied to their program despite being below their ‘minimum funding requirement’ of $1 million,” Balasubramanian said.
While LastBit is working with Visa for U.S. payments, it already has approval to get going in the European Union from MasterCard. That’s the focus for now, with the hopes of proving the product works.
“With a solid product, partnerships and notable investors […] behind us, we’re going to roll out our Bitcoin, Lightning and EUR interoperable payments layer in the EU to prove that this actually works and that a small company without millions can pull off a complex payments product to push for Bitcoin adoption,” Balasubramanian said.