This is an opinion editorial by Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful and cofounder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation.
While Bitcoin adoption continues to grow around the world, education remains one of our biggest challenges. Financial literacy should be a right, but in many places around the world, people are denied this — or even worse, are misinformed. But how do you tackle a subject like Bitcoin? In my experience, it’s the one-on-one connections that have made the strongest impact.
It Starts With Trust
The foundation of any good relationship starts with trust. I learned this at a very young age. When I was a kid working at my parents’ newsstand in New York City, I often encountered customers from all walks of life and had to navigate how I approached each situation. To give the customers what they needed, I realized I could only do that by listening to them. This job taught me patience and empathy, allowing me to understand customer problems early on and find the solutions to help them.
When I started Paxful in 2015, I took the majority of customer service calls that came through. I’ll never forget the first call I took from a frantic customer who found my cell phone number on our website. She was from Louisiana and told me she was going to be evicted from her apartment because she was overdue on rent. This was an unbanked American woman who had never had a bank account and never wanted one, but she needed to buy an ad with Bitcoin to sell some stuff to make ends meet. I taught her that if she could buy a gift card for a small amount that she could convert it to Bitcoin. Twenty minutes later she called back, gift card in hand, and I walked her through the process. Our conversation lasted about two hours, but by the end she was making her first transaction.
A few days later, we started to have hundreds of calls coming in. We ended up guiding nearly a thousand people through our site, and our traders were scrambling to fill orders all around the world. While global Bitcoin adoption starts and ends with education — education is nothing without patience, trust and good customer service.
Banking On Our Community
Throughout my Bitcoin journey, I’ve come across some incredible people who are working to increase education and make a difference around the world. People like activist Farida Nabourema, who is fighting for democracy in the country of Togo, the Sulaiman brothers who are empowering their community in Nigeria with Bitcoin and Kal Kassa who spreads knowledge about Bitcoin to secluded regions like Ethiopia. One interesting story comes from Paco de la India — a man who has made it his mission to visit 40 countries in 400 days living primarily off bitcoin. Along his journey, he is spreading mass awareness of Bitcoin. He educates strangers on the street and hosts events for communities, encouraging people to use Bitcoin to access financial freedom. It’s stories like de la India’s that remind us how small actions can bring great change.
The key to global Bitcoin adoption stems from a bottom-up approach. That’s why at Paxful, we’ve invested so much of our time on the ground — meeting with users, hosting workshops and organizing campus tours. My experience has taught me that you should never underestimate the power of human connection. It’s only with education, patience and understanding that we can reach mass adoption and provide equal access to finance anyone, anywhere.
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.