Ray Youssef (Paxful) on building the world’s largest Bitcoin p2p market

NOTE: Paxful later closed down amid a legal dispute between cofounders, with significant misconduct on Ray’s part being alleged. We will keep this episode up as archival material


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Ray Youssef, founder and CEO of Paxful, joins the show to talk his journey with Paxful and his mission to bring Bitcoin to Africa. Paxful is a wholly bootstrapped startup that has recently taken the crown as the largest Bitcoin p2p marketplace in the world with $2.1B in annualized volume. Ray is from Egypt and has always sought to bring Bitcoin to Africa. Today, Africa is the 2nd most active region by volume on the platform (behind North America). In this episode:

  • Why Bitcoin p2p is so popular in Africa
  • Why interstate settlements in Africa are so challenging today
  • Ray’s predictions about p2p volume versus centralized volume
  • Why p2p exchange data is more reliable than centralized exchange volume
  • How Ray went from being homeless to founding the largest p2p Bitcoin exchange
  • Why KYC in emerging markets is so challenging
  • How Ray went through 11 failed startups before starting Paxful
  • The downside of taking venture financing and why Paxful is better off without it
  • Why western startups fail when they try and get involved in African markets
  • Why African users are under-served by KYC providers like Jumio or Onfido
  • Why Paxful has KYC
  • How the Paxful remittance flow works with gift cards
  • Whether Paxful users are retail or wholesalers
  • Why Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana are popular on Paxful
  • Why Ray focused on Africa for Paxful
  • How Ray found his way to New Orleans after Katrina
  • The genesis of Ray’s humanitarian project to build schools in Africa

Paxful is hiring!