By Moses Nosike and Providence Adeyinka
In this interview, Chief Executive and Co-founder, Paxful, a peer to peer market place, Mr. Ray Youssef, described the Nigerian community as best business people in the world and a special gift just as he said they are ready to engage with the regulators and also assist them in regulating the industry from time to time. Excerpt:
How did Paxful come into existence?
Paxful is a peer to peer market place, we started small but we are thinking big, my co-founder and I started about six years ago in New York City, we believed in Bitcoin ability to help people and we followed through on that, seeking through our vision. Bitcoin is not about technology and money, technology and money is one of the means to help people.
What is bitcoin, crypto currency, their uses and benefits?
Crypto currency is a wide term that identifies any kind of digital money that uses cryptography and bitcoin is the first crypto currency. It makes sending and receiving money as easy as sending email. Technically, it is a money system that needs no permission to use. Crypto currency is not a means of investment or speculation but a vehicle for exchange. It is a liquid clearing letter that allows anyone to access any means of payment in the world. Anybody can open a bitcoin wallet and access, it is open to everyone. The banks have power, but in bitcoin, no one person can change a ledger because it is being controlled by computers and powered by bitcoin computing network which is more powerful than the world’s 500 super powerful computers combined together. Bitcoin is backed up by the life blood of digital world, the best implementation of bitcoin is free money, it is a people powered network, not a means of speculation to make people rich but allows people to use their money naturally.
Why are you in Nigeria, what are your plans for Nigerian users?
We came to Nigeria because Nigeria is the hustling capital of the world; we got the first bitcoin into Africa through Nigeria. In my opinion, the Nigerian people are a special gift and best business people in the world. They grow under pressure which is why they are growing in crypto currency adoption. We want to help their acceleration by educating them on what they are getting into; Nigeria is not a rock just sitting but a moving train. The Nigerian hustling community may be small, but they are very powerful and energetic, brilliant group of people. We want to get to the rural dwellers to see how this could change their lives. We have an office in Abuja which would serve as centre for education and incubation where anyone can go and learn. I love to have a campus here in Nigeria; we have in Kenya and South Africa since 2019. We just built a school in Kaduna State, our target is rural areas. There are armies of unemployed young geniuses’ in this country, imagine them getting a little help, they would become the best entrepreneurs ever.
How would you assess Nigeria as world leader in cryto currency market?
Nigeria is still leading, since the CBN ban, our value has grown to 15 or 20 percent. Nigerian hustlers don’t rest they become harder with much pressure. We have 1.5 million users in Nigeria who have moved over $1.5billion worth of volume and we hope to see more results in the next two years.
How do you intend playing around CBN’s restriction on crypto currency?
We do not want to play around anything; we want to engage everyone including the regulators. I understand why they placed that ban, they saw things moving fast, which is because Nigerians move very fast when they are motivated. There are concerns whether it is safe or helps money laundering and terrorism. There would be a continuous engagement with the stakeholders and the regulators on what we are doing to create wealth and also assist them to regulate from period to period.
What measure have you taken to protect people’s investment?
Skepticism is healthy because no people have been scammed more than the African people. There are a lot of profit cryptocurrency, especially gift card but whenever there is high profit it also means high risk. In China, India, Nigeria, and other part of the world, I am proud to say that 99.5 percent of Paxful trades haven’t had issues. We worked hard to achieve that by scaling up from 21 to 400 people in 18 months. There is work to be done; one pass word is not enough, if you are opening any bitcoin wallet. 99.9 percent of all African websites have been hacked because most emails and pass words carry same names. We advise people to educate themselves and always use two indications as password, meaning you can always get an indication on your phone. These are the basics if you don’t do that then you shouldn’t be in the business, responsibility is on you to protect your own money and understand the game.
What are the products traded on your platform, their uses and benefits?
Product primarily traded on our platform is money in any form, in form of gift cards, cash, bank account, wallet like Alipay, MTN mobile money. The value contained in it can be traded with Paxful, we use bitcoin as the clearing wheel. It is like a universal translator and transporter of money.
What is your vision?
Our vision is to help people by making them wealthy through making money but not by speculation but by allowing them to build businesses, use their money the same way that everyone has a right to use their money. It is a crime for people not to have equal access to money, just like financial system. Financial access should be a fundamental human right, yet we leave in a world of financial apartheid. That Africa is still here and growing is a testament to the strength of the African people. My vision is that the people that deserve to have wealth the most, the hardest working people, the best hustlers should be wealthy and be the ones on top.