This is an opinion piece by Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful and co-founder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation.
My airplane wheels hit the tarmac, excitement washed over me – it was my first visit to Nigeria in a year, and it felt good to be back.
Anyone who has listened to me over the past seven years knows that I have so much enthusiasm and faith in the future of the people of the South – and there is no country I am more passionate about than Nigeria.
As I write this, I have just spent the last 10 days in the country. I had the honor of speaking at an event organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to explain how Bitcoin is helping to empower Nigerian youth. It was an opportunity to speak with government officials and explain why they should embrace Bitcoin – it is a solution to improve the lives of people, especially young people, and it is already happening.
It’s been almost two years since I was on the Bitcoin 2021 scene and shared my enthusiasm for this beautiful country and its wonderful people. It wasn’t scripted or planned, it was from the heart. I told Bitcoiners in the Miami public why I am so passionate about the country, what it has taught me, and how bright the future will be. My message struck a chord with people, and in the weeks and months that followed, I was able to open a dialogue with people around the world who had seen the clip and shared my passion. There is a generation of young people who are eager and ready to help bring about this bright new future – and better yet, they want to do it with Bitcoin.
You will see in many studies that Nigerians are leading the way in bitcoin adoption – this is no surprise to me. They are early adopters, looking for ways to improve their daily lives – just ask the founders of WhatsApp, who have benefited from the nigerian appetite for communication application. Bitcoin is the same for them.
It was the young Nigerians who taught me to think beyond Western financial systems and consider gift cards and alternative payment methods as options for buying Bitcoin. I didn’t have this magic idea, it was by listening and watching what the Nigerian people were doing that I was able to build Paxful.
What encourages me the most is all the talented people on the ground – people like Bernard Parah and Abubakar Nur Khalil, and initiatives like the Qala scholarship – plus the PaxNaija Bitcoin Center in Abuja. It’s an exciting time to be in Nigeria, let alone a Bitcoiner in Nigeria.
I ended my trip with a campus visit to Abuja, where I spoke to hundreds of young students about Bitcoin. It’s moments like this that I’m looking for. To see people, to be on the ground, to see hope and potential for the future. These are special times, this is a special country, and I will continue to speak on behalf of these incredible 220 million people. As bitcoiners, we need to widen our eyes from our western mindset and see how the whole world is using bitcoin – once we do that, that’s when global adoption will become the reality we all want.
Jam us for Naija.
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.