Hi Ray, nice to meet you. Would you like to introduce yourself first?
Ray Youssef: I’m a startup and a tech guy. I’ve founded many startups, double digits, and now I’m here at Bitcoin. I was born in Egypt and raised in New York. I love building products for people and helping people. I have a crazy dream that anyone can become rich.
People don’t have to be poor for others to be rich; we can all be rich. I’m building a machine, a tool that people can use to free themselves from economic apartheid, and it’s all based on bitcoin because I consider bitcoin to be the only honest money we really have. Honest money will lead to peace.
How did you find Bitcoin?
When I first heard about it – in 2011 – I dismissed it as nerd money. But in 2013, I started dealing with it and reading the white paper. I learned that Bitcoin can sustain itself and the miner incentive model impressed me. He was a programmer and he designed a beautiful system which is Layer Zero.
What humanity really needs is a civilization building kit. You need to be able to take open source code, build it, and run your whole country. Management is about money. Bitcoin is layer zero, Lightning is a layer above for payments, and then there are other things like custodial solutions, you can decentralize a business, etc.
Tell me more about what Paxful is? What is the value of what you build?
Should investors sell immediately? Or is it worth going to Amazon?
Paxful is a peer-to-peer money transfer marketplace that acts as a wallet platform. In many ways, it is essentially an exchange of money, from fiat to crypto.
Cryptocurrencies are used as a layer of compensation and are very valuable for arbitrage, but due to liquidity all over the world, they can also help many ordinary people.
So the first thing to do is to bring Bitcoin to the unbanked masses. There are 40 million unbanked people in the United States. And in Africa, there are many more unbanked people. Even people who have a bank account in Africa cannot send money to the neighboring country. There is segregation and it is economic apartheid.
So you have a local bank account, but not a global one. A lot of help is needed here and once people learn how to use this tool, they will of course start transacting and spreading it to the people around them. This is how you can saturate a local economy.
How do you find out what the problems are, develop solutions, and scale?
It has to be done locally and it has to be done in a certain order. You only know this sequence if you are there yourself. Talk to people, listen to them, look them in the eye and see what their problems are. Empathize with them, and they might give you a gem, or a problem they have, or an opportunity to use a stronger trade route, or whatever. They can build on something that already exists and then provide feedback to you on your platform. It’s one of the things I love the most.
What are some of the main products and services offered by Paxful?
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The first product, as already mentioned, is the market. It is basically an SEO service or an ad listing. Somebody say, “Hey, I’m offering a $100 bill Amazon (Note updated today) Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) gift certificate, but I want at least, you know, $85 in bitcoins,” and people will respond.
There will be an escrow service – an arbitrator if necessary – and the money will end up in people’s wallets. We’re building a lot of stuff on top of that to streamline things like payments, remittances, and real-world use cases. Speculation is just one use case that unfortunately gets the most attention.
People often go to exchanges to lose money. They go to places like Paxful to make money. Some earn a lot, regularly, by creating a trade route and solving a problem.
Imagine you can send money directly to a mobile wallet in Kenya and they receive it instantly and you can spend it through M-PESA, the first and best mobile wallet in Kenya or even all of Africa . What if people didn’t lose 20% on transaction fees, but made a profit?
Why? Because Bitcoin is rare in Kenya and people are willing to pay more than the market price. This makes money cheap for everyone in Europe to send home for example and this is the power of arbitrage and the opening of a Bitcoin powered market.
Did you build Paxful all by yourself?
In the first version, I designed the UX and UI. I did my database administration and some of the middle tier code, but got a lot of help. The documentation made the process easier.
Tell us about the trends you are seeing and how you will position Paxful to take advantage of these trends.
We positioned ourselves on the spot and listened to the users. This means that we know what to improve and what to build other products because Bitcoin is layer zero. We now have Lightning, but someone really needs to decentralize the company I started, Paxful. If you have that and some sort of OTC market for everything, you can do anything. You can trade anything for anything.
Do you have anything else to tell us?
We are not moving fast enough. We need to put bitcoin, hard money, on the streets. I thought about how we can accelerate this with the resources we have.
Tokens continue to be a way to improve and refocus incentives, which is powerful. I have never bought a token or performed an ICO. There is something here, and it needs to be understood, because we need to get more bitcoins into the hands of everyday people, and faster.
People should get a UBI based on the monetization of their time. Africans are young. Imagine if they were all put to work. The wealth explosion would be enormous.
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