Ray Youssef, the CEO of peer-to-peer lending platform Paxful has told Coindesk, “Everyone should have all eyes on Africa right now.”
He reported that the number of transactions on Paxful in Africa, combined with Google searches, primarily from Nigeria, reflect the “tremendous momentum” around cryptocurrency adoption on the continent.
According to data shared with CoinDesk, Nigeria is Paxful’s biggest market to date, with around 1.5 million users and $1.5 billion in trade volume. The reasons for this are Nigeria’s exchange rate policy, inflation and the country’s large number of the unbanked. As a result many are turning to cryptocurrencies as a store of value.
When the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tried to impose restrictions on use of cryptocurrency, ordering local banks to identify and shut down any accounts tied to crypto platforms, there was an almost instant backlash, forcing CBN to review its position and ease restrictions. Ultimately, Nigerians got around it by switching to platforms like Paxful so they could avoid local banks.
“This is just the harbinger of things to come. We’re only starting to see what Africa is capable of,” Youssef said, referring to how young Nigerians have built their own alternative financial networks. Additionally, he said that Nigeria is not the only country to watch: Cameroon and Ethiopia are also showing signs of swelling crypto adoption.
Paxful also told CoinDesk that in Kenya the platform expects to see 120% growth in users and 142% growth in trading volumes this year based on linear projections from 2020, and 72% growth in users and 84% growth in trading volumes in Ghana.
Youssef told Coindesk, “People ask me why I am so crazy about Africa. Well, the reason is, I’ve been there, I’ve met the people, I’ve seen the problems that they have. It makes perfect sense once you’re there.”