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Crypto marketplace Paxful targets 2m more users in 2020

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Ray Youssef, co-founder and CEO of Paxful.
Ray Youssef, co-founder and CEO of Paxful.

July saw Paxful, a global peer-to-peer crypto-currency marketplace, celebrate its fifth anniversary.

This milestone is particularly significant for Egyptian-born co-founder Ray Youssef, whose journey has taken him from homelessness to CEO within the last five years.

However, Youssef says as important and significant as Paxful’s growth is, so too is the status and nature of the crypto-currency industry.

Artur Schaback is co-founder of Paxful, and COO of the New York-headquartered company.

With crypto-currency having taken the finance world by storm a number of years ago, Paxful and its co-founders believe the future of the Bitcoin economy depends on “moving away from toxic speculative activity and moving towards a place where consumers trust Bitcoin for their personal finance needs”.

In SA, Paxful competes against crypto exchanges such as Luno, AltCoinTrader, VALR and iCE3X, among others.

“Paxful turned five years old in July 2020. We are very proud of the major milestones we have achieved since starting the business as two formerly homeless entrepreneurs in 2015 with the mission to give people a simple, fair and secure platform for buying and selling Bitcoin,” Youssef says in an e-mail to ITWeb.

He notes that in July, Paxful hit $4.6 billion in trading volume and reached 4.5 million wallet registrations on its platform.

“Since inception, we have added one million users per year and so far in 2020, we are on track to sign up an additional two million users by the end of the year. We have learned so much in the past five years and are excited to continue developing our products and platform to accelerate the process of bringing financial inclusion to the underbanked and unbanked through peer-to-peer finance.”

Describing the competition in the South African crypto space, Youssef says the country has become one of the notable adopters of Bitcoin in Africa.

“On our platform alone from July 2019 to July 2020, we saw an increase in trading volume for Bitcoin from our South African users of 994%.”

The increasing number of crypto-currency marketplaces and exchanges is good for the industry, he notes.

“With more players in the market, consumers get improving products, services and prices. The increasing visibility of our sector is also good for increasing awareness about the Bitcoin economy.”

Bitcoin is useful in Africa, says Youssef, adding that unlike the West, where speculation remains a primary driver of the crypto-economy, African consumers are increasingly using crypto-currency to satisfy both personal finance needs and to facilitate entrepreneurial ventures, including remittance, e-commerce, etc.

He adds that COVID-19 has adversely impacted a great deal of the global economy and this has led to higher rates of joblessness as well as poverty in many communities.

“We’re seeing even more African consumers seeking opportunities in wanting to learn about the income-generating opportunities available in the Bitcoin economy. It’s incumbent upon responsible crypto marketplaces like ourselves to educate the public about Bitcoin.”

As crypto adoption continues rising, he expects to see governments looking to formulate enabling regulations and guidelines for the industry.

“We believe that South Africa, and Africa overall, has tremendous potential and is critical to the future of the global crypto-economy. We’re looking to expand our office in Johannesburg and hire more employees to support the growth of our business.”

Paxful is also actively looking to join forces with African-born crypto players who share its passion and vision for the global crypto-economy, and to join the company’s efforts in bringing Bitcoin to the unbanked masses across the continent.

“Finally, we intend to increase our investments in education, fintech skills development and our support for entrepreneurs in South Africa and the continent.”

On regulation of the industry, Youssef points out that industry-specific regulation and compliance still remains in its early phase.

He notes that many crypto-players are doing their part to earn the trust of consumers by putting in place relevant (and often voluntary) compliance, governance, legal and risk management processes.

“However, like the traditional financial system, Bitcoin is not immune to opportunists with illicit intent and the best way for any consumer to stay safe, is to stay informed. At Paxful, we are committed to provide our users with regular up-to-date information on important security measures and tips as to how they can protect themselves.”

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