How A US Cryptocurrency Company Is Riding Africa’s Crypto Wave

Written by Ann Brown
Ray Youssef, CEO, and Co-Founder Photo: Paxful

Paxful, a Wilmington, Delaware-based peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace and bitcoin wallet, didn’t outright market to Africa. Instead, Africans chose Paxful.

Cryptocurrency interest, adoption and use continue to grow in Africa. In 2018, Africans conducted 6.5 million trades — an average of 17,000 daily. Cryptoeconomy in Africa marked its 10-year anniversary in 2018, reaching a total market capitalization of approximately $138.6 billion.

Paxful has benefited.

Co-founders Ray Youssef and Artur Schaback say they’re optimistic about their African business in 2019, especially when it comes to Kenya. Paxful enables buyers to purchase bitcoin directly from sellers via more than 300 different payment methods including gift cards, cash deposits, online wallets and debit or credit cards.

Ray Youssef, CEO, and Co-Founder Photo: Paxful

“Africa will continue to lead,” Youssef said.”The aim of the cryptocurrency revolution is to make the global economy more accessible. Africa has emerged as a leader in this space … Africans are using cryptocurrency to satisfy both personal finance needs and entrepreneurial ventures; transferring goods, services, and money domestically as well as globally.”

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There’s an emerging generation of Africans buying crypto as investment vehicles to back promising blockchain startups. A relatively small number of Africans trade digital currencies speculatively for profit, Youssef said.

“It would seem that Africa chose Paxful,” Youssef told Moguldom. “The African people found us and decided that using Paxful can help them to take control of their finances.

“They have this resiliency and they use that resiliency and focus on what is essential for them to … succeed and control the way they spend and send money,” Youssef told Moguldom. “And with that idea in mind, they are using Paxful because they see it as a helpful tool to take control of their finances. It’s quite simple, the African people needed something to help them and they decided that Paxful is the right peer-to-peer platform to use.”

Working in Africa has helped Paxful finetune its product.

“It’s been a mix of ups and downs but overall a great experience for us,” he said. “The people take the information and technology with open arms and actually use it in their daily lives. Their interest in the platform teaches us new things, and we in return make the platform better for them. Now we continually guide them on how they can fully utilize the Paxful platform and the benefits they can get with peer-to-peer finance,” he said.

Paxful launched in 2015, and started giving back to Africa through a program called #BuiltWithBitcoin, which builds schools and takes donations via Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dash.

The goal is to build 100 schools across Africa. Two have been built so far in Rwanda.

Paxful chose Rwanda in part because “it’s the heart of Africa,” Youssef said. “It was plagued by (genocide 25 years ago) but the people’s resilience showed how forgiveness can heal a community and turn into something more than ever imagined. These people need to be given an opportunity more than anything. We are giving it to the young ones by providing an opportunity to go to school and have a proper education.”

Paxful is also working on schools in Nigeria. “Nigeria is a good location since it is our biggest market in Africa. But we are also looking at Kenya, Ghana, and perhaps South Africa,” Youssef said.