With a young, tech-savvy population, a booming Fintech space, and a matured payments and settlements architecture, Ghana is on course to becoming the fastest adopter of Bitcoin – the world’s leading cryptocurrency – on the continent, Chief Executive Officer of Paxful, a peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto platform, Ray Youssef, has said.
Describing the local market as a ‘hidden jewel’, he said Ghana ranks fourth in terms of volumes transacted on the Paxful platform, behind only Nigeria, the United States of America and India.
Speaking exclusively with the B&FT during his appearance at the maiden Africa Bitcoin Conference, which came off in Accra recently, he said the relatively stable socio-economic environment and the willingness of certain demographics to learn about the use of Bitcoin, to guard against local currency volatility, to purchase items and to conduct remittance transfers bodes well for its domestic growth.
“Ghana is a much more stable environment and has enormous potential. Ghana, in my opinion, can serve as an illustration of how quickly things can develop if you just let locals, such as young people, trade with limited government interference. I believe Ghana may be a fantastic leader and innovator for what is happening in West Africa,” he said, adding that most of the transactions occur in the north of the country.
Mr. Youssef’s comments are consistent with a number of studies which have pointed to wider cryptocurrency adoption in Ghana.
In its Global Crypto Adoption Index, analytics firm Chainanalysis noted that despite sub-Saharan Africa accounting for only 2 percent of the volume of cryptocurrency transactions between July 2021 and June 2022 – US$100.6billion in on-chain volume received – the transactions were primarily used for retail purposes, not speculation.
He stated that it is the reason transaction volumes on the continent continued to rise even when bitcoin’s price fell.
“The African and Ghanaian community has been using Bitcoin to create an alternative economy for the past seven years, and we desperately need it because our current economy is broken and fragmented, which keeps people in poverty,” he said, noting that an economic ‘apartheid’ has been holding the continent back.
Addressing recent incidents of fraud in the cryptosphere, he said inasmuch as it is unfortunate, it is part of the evolutionary process, similar to what has pertained with fiat currencies.
He stressed the need for bitcoin stakeholders to view regulators as “just doing their duty”, and seek further engagements.
“People in crypto tend to see regulators as the problems but it is absolutely not true. The regulators are not the problem, the problems are the scammers who mostly come in crypto. And the regulators are just responding to all these complaints. You cannot blame them for wanting to protect their people,” he remarked.
He made the bold claim that the adoption of Bitcoin is essential as it is the continent’s path to financial independence.
“I have faith in the future, which is most likely already being made. In this future, where money flows freely – creating riches and trade, Africans won’t require aid; they will be self-sufficient. All we need to do is speed that up. Remove the impediments, so they can create a future for us,” he said.
He disclosed that his organisation is opening an educational centre in Kumasi as part of efforts to deepen the understanding of Bitcoin. This will empower and sensitise the people while fostering and maintaining a circular economy for Bitcoin.