Even as he pushes to get the world past “the fax era of global payments,” Bitcoin bull David Marcus said he doesn’t believe that BTC will ever become a popular or common payment method.
“Our view is actually that Bitcoin is not the currency that people will use to buy things,” the entrepreneur said during an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday.
The comment may seem surprising coming from Marcus, who co-founded PayPal and now serves as the CEO of Lightspark—a company building on Bitcoin’s lightning network. But it is on that network—a layer-2 scaling solution on top of the top cryptocurrency—where he is placing his bets.
The lightning network is intended to make Bitcoin transactions faster, cheaper, and more practical for small payments. It processes BTC transactions separately before later settling them on the main Bitcoin blockchain.
According to Marcus, the company’s goal is to turn lightning into a “universal protocol for money on the internet,” similar to how texting is a universal protocol for communication. However, the currencies transferred over the network would still be the fiat currencies we know and use today.
“A fragment of a Bitcoin on top of lightning is like a small packet data packet on the internet only for value,” said Marcus. Users could send any currency they’d like—including dollars, yen, or euros—and receive any money of choice on the other side. Lightning acts as the “real-time,” “low cost,” and “cash final” settlement layer in between, he explained.
Marcus did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Decrypt.
The executive’s views echo that of Jack Mallers, CEO of Strike, whose company also leverages lightning for cheaper global currency transfers. The wallet app now enables worldwide lightning-based remittances to 65 countries like Argentina, Nigeria, and Ghana, where users can receive transactions as local currency within their bank account.
Before working on Bitcoin, Marcus worked on Meta’s now-defunct stablecoin wallet app, NOVI. Between failed partnerships and backlash from regulators, Marcus stepped down from the firm in late November 2021, saying his “entrepreneurial DNA” was encouraging him to move on. He launched Lightspark six months later.
Fellow PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel also speaks well of Bitcoin, considering it an alternative to today’s “bankrupt” central banks and “fiat money regime.”
As a company, PayPal now allows users to buy, sell, and hold crypto, including Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC). Last month, the payment platform announced its own stablecoin, PYUSD, which means to “transform payments in Web3 and digitally native environments.”