As Steve Jobs, a co-founder of the American tech giant Apple said, Humans are tool builders. Jack Mallers, creator of ZAP, a Lightning Network wallet, quoted him and definitely qualifies as a tool builder. Indeed, he promises to revolutionize money and shape a new future with his product. We had the chance to meet Jack during the CryptoFest in Montreal and to ask him a few questions.
You’re only 24 years old, may we ask how you discovered blockchain technology and how came to be so active in the crypto space?
I got involved in the space because of my father. My Bitcoin story involves a cheat code: My father is the smartest man I’ve ever met and he got me into Bitcoin when I was 19.
My family has a lot of history in finance. My grandfather was the youngest chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade and signed the funding check for the Chicago Board Options Exchange. My dad founded and ran a futures brokerage in Chicago. A lot of Chicago finance has been watching Bitcoin closely for a long time. He recognized Bitcoin as a new asset class and started getting my step-mom and I involved around a year after I graduated high school.
It seems you have a big effect on people, as we saw in Montreal where the participants said they had goose bumps after you speech; could you sum up for us what is the main message you are trying to spread in the community?
Ha, that’s flattering. I think the message I tried to convey is the world that we know and the things that surround us were invented and created by other people. Humans have this continuous loop of crafting tools, adapting the environment around them, and then repeating. Every now and then a new tool comes around that changes everything: the way we think, the way we interact, the way we behave, etc. The car, the telephone, the computer, the light bulb, the Internet, etc. It’s not a stretch to classify Bitcoin with these revolutionary tools. We have a unique opportunity to create and influence generations to come. Everything we create takes up space, occupies time and energy. I want people to be inspired to build and understand how important this current time is. This is a unique time to be alive and involved in one of the most ambitious and disruptive creations ever. We are revolutionizing money.
You said during your presentation at the Blockhouse that Bitcoin is starting to reshape our world, the way we talk about politics, and what we think about our government. We would like to know what is your opinion regarding political institutions?
That is a complex question that I’m not sure I can answer in a few sentences. I can say however I think that governments have too much of an influence and carry too much responsibility when it comes to the money (fiat) we use today. I think central banking is flawed and a new sound money (Bitcoin) will do great things for everyone. It’s unclear how everything will play out, I’d be a liar if I told you I knew what the future will look like, but so far we’re off to a great start.
You started to work on ZAP alone in your bedroom and today there are multiple people working on this wallet “for the community, by the community” – can you tell me a little bit more about the product, its goals, and its differences from other wallets?
I think one of the most overlooked facts in life is doing anything well is really hard. Whether that’s being a good son, a good boyfriend, being on time to things, building good software that helps people, etc. So I try and simplify the scope of what my products try and solve. I only build things where I understand the problem it’s trying to solve because I face the problem myself and I only build things I am a user of. So that’s how Zap started. I just wanted to take this protocol and build an interface that allowed me to interact with it in a familiar and friendly way.
It differs from other wallets because it supports Lightning out of the box and is 100% open source. Its goal remains fairly simple: Allow people to use the Lightning Network. Zap is expanding a bit as we are creating other Lightning related products that I think should exist. But at its core it is simply trying to abstract the complexity of the protocol and underlying technology. Appeal to a more mainstream audience as Bitcoin matures into a tool that benefits the lives of many.
As you mentioned this was your very first time in Montreal, can you tell us what you think about the crypto community that we have here?
I thought the community was fantastic, I had a blast. Made new friends, learned new things, tried new food, etc. Cheers to the folks in Montreal. Thanks for having me, I’ll definitely be back.
How does your planning looks like for the next few weeks/months? Will you be speaking at more events, will you be travelling, will you be taking vacations?
I’m not sure honestly. I certainly hope to travel and speak more, I really enjoyed it. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted.