In this truly insightful episode, I’m chatting with Ray Youssef, the founder and CEO of Paxful, one of the largest peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin marketplaces in the world.
Ray has been an entrepreneur since 2001 and has founded 12 startups along the way. That way was far from smooth, though. Ray literally went from rags to riches and learned many lessons. In a nutshell, he is a New York City native that loves building awesome things that make life better.
That’s where Paxful comes in, currently mainly serving and making difference in developing countries by using Bitcoin to help the ‘unbanked’ people. As many before him, Ray wasn’t a believer in bitcoin at first, but he gave it a shot by selling it for gift cards. And – it worked.
“Me and my co-founder Artur, we were like: ”We got to scale this up.” And we did and all of a sudden: BOOM! I wasn’t homeless anymore.”
Now, Africa is Paxful’s biggest market (with the US aiming to take over) – this developing world where people turn to Paxful and P2P financing the most. And the difference is tremendous. Ray shares a somewhat incredible example of people being unable to buy new iPhones in Nigeria because their banks don’t allow that much spending (that’s just the tip of the iceberg, trust me).
There’s also plenty of room for charity in Ray’s heart, as he is being involved in building a second school in Africa, all thanks to bitcoin. He also shares the challenges of building a school in Africa, his musing on the Lightning Network, what the future holds for Paxful, and invites anyone who is able to sell bitcoin in Venezuela and Turkey, to reach out to him personally to help you get set up.
That would be enough of introduction, I feel – let’s hear what my today’s guest says about his experience with bitcoin and how he sees it changing the world.
In this episode you’ll discover:
00:38 – The bitcoin connection; how Paxful came into being.
04:24 – What ‘universal translator for money’ means.
07:18 – If Ray sees bitcoin used as a form of a bank account.
11:08 – On the day-to-day use of bitcoin in developing countries; the six reasons why it works so well and makes a difference (with examples!).
17:19 – Bitcoin is bringing financial empowerment, not just inclusion.
17:57 – Where the idea for building a school in Rwanda came from.
20:51 – The building blocks for empowerment – it’s all the same in the developing countries.
21:51 – The biggest challenges Ray encountered when building the school.
23:58 – On Lightning Network and if he sees it being integrated into Paxful at some point.
26:33 – On Paxful’s plans for the future.
30:30 – One country he would like to relocate for a short period of time if he had to.
33:33 – Biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs today.
Both Artur and I got into bitcoin because we really believe that it could make for a more peaceful world: a currency that could not be wildly inflated at will; bankers could not start wars and drag us into them at will.
We didn’t figure anything out ourselves. All we did was listen to our customer and watch what they were doing and they taught us so much.
You can trade anything in the world for anything else and bitcoin is just a medium.
Financial empowerment – this is the key. Inclusion is not good enough.
I really believe that sometime in the next two years, we are going to create the world’s first closed-loop crypto economy and it might be Venezuela. But when that happens, everyone is really going to understand the power of P2P finance and then the banks are gonna start shaking.
Important notes from this episode:
Connect with Ray:
- Connect with Ray on Twitter
- Connect with Ray via email
- Connect with Ray on Instagram
- Or say hello on the streets of New York!