“Everyone should have their eyes on Africa right now,” Ray Youssef, CEO of peer-to-peer lending platform Paxful, said on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Friday.
Youssef said the number of transactions on Paxful in Africa, combined with Google searches mostly from Nigeria, reflected the “tremendous momentum” around cryptocurrency adoption.
“The African leader [in] global adoption of cryptocurrency, ”he said.
According to data shared with CoinDesk, Nigeria is Paxful’s largest market to date, with around 1.5 million users and $ 1.5 billion in trading volume. Thanks to Nigeria’s delicate exchange rate policy, inflation and a large number of unbanked adults, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are increasingly used as an alternative store of value.
Earlier this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered local banking institutions to identify and close all accounts linked to crypto platforms. The order met with a quick backlash and the CBN has eased its stance somewhat since then. However, Nigerian users quickly switched to trading on peer-to-peer platforms like Paxful to avoid interacting with local banks.
“This is just the harbinger of things to come. We are only starting to see what Africa is capable of, ”Youssef said, referring to how young Nigerians have built their own alternative financial networks.
Youssef added that in addition to leading markets like Nigeria, new markets are “exploding” every day. He expects Cameroon and Ethiopia to be strong competitors for emerging crypto markets in the coming years.
A representative for Paxful told CoinDesk that the platform expects growth of 120% in users and 142% in transaction volumes this year based on linear projections from 2020. The company expects also to a growth of 72% of users and 84% of transaction volumes. in Ghana.
“People ask me why I am so crazy about Africa,” Youssef said. “Well, the reason is that I went there, I met the people, I saw the problems they have. It makes perfect sense once you get there.