This is an opinion piece by Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful and co-founder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation.
As 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 it or, worse, misinformed. But how do you approach a subject like Bitcoin? In my experience, one-on-one relationships have had the most impact.
It all starts with trust
The foundation of any good relationship starts with trust. I learned this very young. When I was a kid working at my parents’ newsstand in New York, I often encountered clients from all walks of life and had to navigate how I approached each situation. To give 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 answered the majority of customer service calls. I will never forget the first call I received 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 behind on rent. She was an unbanked American who had never had a bank account and never wanted one, but needed to buy advertising with Bitcoin to sell stuff to make ends meet. I taught her that if she could buy a gift card for a small amount, 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 in the end, she was making her first transaction.
A few days later, we started receiving hundreds of calls. We ended up guiding nearly a thousand people to our site, and our merchants strove to fulfill orders all over the world. While global Bitcoin adoption begins and ends with education, education is nothing without patience, trust, and good customer service.
Leverage our community
Throughout my bitcoin journey, I’ve met amazing people working to increase education and make a difference in the world. People like activist Farida Nabourema who is fighting for democracy in Togo, the Sulaiman brothers who are empowering their community in Nigeria with bitcoin, and Kal Kassa who is spreading bitcoin knowledge to remote areas like Ethiopia. An interesting story comes from Paco de la India – a man who made it his mission to visit 40 countries in 400 days living mostly off bitcoin. Throughout his career, he raises public awareness of Bitcoin. He educates strangers on the streets and organizes events for communities, encouraging people to use Bitcoin to gain financial freedom. It’s stories like de la India’s that remind us how small actions can make big changes.
The key to Bitcoin’s global adoption stems from a bottom-up approach. That’s why, at Paxful, we’ve invested a lot of our time in the field, meeting users, running workshops, and running campus tours. My experience has taught me that you should never underestimate the power of human connection. Only with education, patience and understanding can we achieve mass adoption and provide equal access to funding to anyone, anywhere.
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.