Ray Youssef is a man on a mission. And he isn’t chasing token scams, pump and dumps, or the next hot DeFi project.
Instead, he’s at the helm of one of the world’s biggest and oldest crypto exchange platforms, Paxful. The firm has been around since 2015 and allows users to buy and sell Bitcoin instantly in over 300 ways via its leading peer to peer marketplace.
During a sit-down interview with Cryptonites host Alex Fazel — as part of the edutainment platform’s season three finale — Youssef discussed the crypto hustle, the adoption of Bitcoin in Africa, and how DeFi projects are infamous for the broader blockchain industry.
From selling papers in New York to Bitcoining Africa
Youssef comes from humble beginnings. A son of Egyptian immigrants, he sold newspapers in New York at the tender age of 8, which later turned out to be his first brush with entrepreneurship and people skills.
Later on, and several successful startups later, he deployed his skills to help germinate Paxful into the giant it is today. Part of this came via chasing an untapped, underdog market — Africa — one that was initially shunned by other crypto startups at the time.
[They said] there’s no way they’re going to figure out Bitcoin. Now Africa is actually leading Bitcoin adoption. A number of Google searches and the sheer number of peer to peer transactions as well. Yes, this is happening right now,” said Youssef in the regard, adding the killer line:
“It was the people of Africa that taught us what the killer app of Bitcoin really was, and that is a universal translator for money.”
For Youssef, unlike a majority of the current crypto participation and interest, Bitcoin is not an asset that nets thousands of dollars solely for those in the know. Instead, it forms a strong, wholly-decentralized means of exchange for people who are drastically underserved by banks and financial institutions.
“There was an immense need for the financial services that Bitcoin could bring. And the second thing was just the natural resources of Africa. But by that, I don’t mean what’s in the ground. I mean, what’s in the heads and hearts of their young people” he said.
“There are so many brilliant young people, they’re entrepreneurs, so ambitious, so driven, and all they’re doing is looking for a path. You give them that path and you eyes light up.”
On the DeFi token monstrosity
Youssef spoke a bit on the one topic that has taken the crypto market by storm this year: DeFi applications and yield farming.
Originally starting out as a way of getting rewarded by protocols for providing liquidity, the sector has grown by billions of dollars, and “yield farms” have since spiraled out left, right, and center with the promises of big (as much as 1,000%) annualized percentage yields.
With those have come opportunistic players, scams, and token pump and dumps.
“They’ll take that Ethereum on another service and then they’ll start farming all these tokens, right? Start pooling their assets, making money. They’re putting money into a massive, I can’t follow it. It’s almost as insane and labyrinth, like as a derivatives monstrosity in wall street, they’ve actually recreated that now on a blockchain,” noted Youssef in the regard.
“It’s absolutely amazing. Now the caveat is, is that 99.9% of these tokens are complete and total rubbish. It’s another scam on an order of magnitude, greater than what happened in ICO’s. But now the difference is that, you know, with ICO’s anyone could IPO. But with this, anyone can IPO and be a market maker.”
But does Youssef think the DeFi bubble is going to eventually bust? What happens to Bitcoin then? Check out the entire interview available for streaming right below to find out!