“I’m coining this term right here, right now,” Ray Youssef declares. “Financial Apartheid.”
The CEO and co-founder of Paxful is on a mission. “It’s what has held Africa back more than anything else.”
“How advanced would the United States be if you couldn’t send money from New York to Florida? From New York to California? From Oregon to Washington? It wouldn’t be the United States! It would be a mess of all these squabbling little city-states that can barely get it together.”
Youssef is passionate about transforming the world by enabling the free flow of money everywhere. This can only be accomplished, he says, with a people-powered marketplace.
“Cryptocurrency is just a piece. We use that as a technology, but it’s the people that make it work. It’s peer-to-peer just like Napster, Uber, Airbnb, Craigslist, all of it. This is the last piece needed so that technology can truly disrupt finance.”
Bitcoin by itself, Youssef says, is not enough.
Paxful values learned at the newsstand
Youssef reflects on his first job in Hell’s Kitchen in the 80’s, when New York was “a rough place.” He hauled huge stacks of hundreds of newspapers, delivering to hotels around Central Park. “I was like eight or nine years old, but I was a monster.” Lugging a hand truck of papers around the neighborhood, he would collect up to a thousand dollars in cash by the end of a night’s run. “That’s a lot of money for an eight year old boy to be carrying around!”
His parents worked non-stop. Immigrating from Egypt, his father started out as a lowly dishwasher before saving up enough money for the family to join him in America. Eventually, the parents started a modest newsstand business with a little help from some friends, where Youssef worked as a teller. “That’s where I learned how to handle money and handle people.”
Youssef learned to connect with people on the street. Staying connected to everyday people is a key value that Paxful espouses, he…