‘Bitcoin in the West Has Sold out, and Now Only the Global South Can Save BTC’ — Ray Youssef
According to Ray Youssef, the CEO of Noones, peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin trading is the United States’ public enemy number one because its potential widespread adoption by people from the Global South represents the “world’s first real threat to the U.S. Treasury system.” Youssef added that the United States’ disdain of P2P marketplaces is also due to its awareness that peer-to-peer commerce is “the best path to enable truly free commerce in the Global South.”
‘Turning Bitcoin Into a Medium of Exchange’
However, Youssef, who was recently appointed CEO of the new peer-to-peer Bitcoin marketplace, told Bitcoin.com News that he is willing to accept the risks and challenges that come with leading a P2P platform because “the payoff is worth any risk.”
The Noones CEO nonetheless said he disagreed with the notion that spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) approvals by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will be key in driving bitcoin adoption in Africa in the coming years. He insisted that many people on the continent “are [already] turning Bitcoin into a medium of exchange as its primary use case.”
Meanwhile, in his written answers sent to Bitcoin.com News via email, Youssef emphasized the importance of listening to and addressing user complaints because doing so ultimately helps companies to “radically improve” their product or service. Youssef also shared a few details about his departure from Paxful and how his subsequent efforts to assist users helped him maintain their trust.
Below are Youssef’s answers to all the questions sent.
Bitcoin.com News (BCN): One could say that you had a topsy-turvy 2023, which started with your unexpected departure from Paxful but ultimately ended with your recent appointment as the CEO of Noones. However, unlike others who wilted away after going through something similar, you have seemingly remained committed to the cause and continued to make the case for Africa. What motivates you to continue even when it seems like you are losing?
Ray Youssef (RY): Getting hit with a lawsuit on Martin Luther King weekend was tough, but having a mission makes you tougher. There were two things that helped and gave me an epic win at the end. I am happy to say that the lawsuit was dismissed, and all my issues were resolved. I own not a single share in the company; I gave them all up and received no payment. My hope was that the company would do the right thing and pay for the compliance hours needed to unfreeze users’ funds held by regulators. While I walk away with not a single ‘SAT’ for eight years of building a company, I leave with my integrity, experience, and my reputation stronger than ever. The entire community really appreciated my transparency and deeds like paying those that lost money in Celsius out of my own pocket. Trust is priceless.
First, the opportunity before us now is literally the biggest ever in all history. I don’t mean as just a business but a type 1 civilization upgrade for all humanity. The whole world is going through a mass awakening all at once and going peer to peer to empower the people directly. We have a chance to be the super app the global south needs to break through and inspire the world. That would get anyone out of retirement.
Second, I believe in God and I saw the signs everywhere that he was always with me.
BCN: You have consistently talked about the rise of the Global South and how this is going to change the current world order. Can you briefly describe or talk about this Global South and identify who is going to benefit from its rise?
RY: Africa, Latin America, and Asia, are the Global South. It is a term used by some of my heroes like Malcom X to describe everything other than the Western powers. The Global South, encompassing 80% of the world’s population, possesses less than 20% of the global wealth, with the majority of that wealth concentrated in Western countries. Projections indicate that the nations of the Global South will experience more than 90% of the world’s population growth in the coming decades, and their current demographic makeup predominantly comprises individuals under the age of 30.
A well-maintained matrix of financial apartheid has been holding back the people of the Global South. Bitcoin and peer-to-peer commerce enabled by Noones and a huge world of over-the-counter (OTC) transactions is the cure. When the wealth of the Global South can move freely then we shall see immense wealth being built from the ground up. Western corporations can trade because they can move their money, a privilege not uniformly shared by the Global South. Once these barriers are gone we shall see the rise of a peer-to-peer world and it shall be led by the youth of the Global South.
Every human being shall benefit, including the West. Humanity will enter a Golden Age and be a type 1 civilization, a transformation achievable within a decade or even faster. I speak with such confidence because I know it has happened before. With NoOnes, I am committed to fulfilling this vision.
BCN: Over the past year, regulators, particularly those in the United States, have increased their scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry. We have seen them target centralised exchanges like Binance and Kraken, which has complicated their operations. Do you foresee regulators going after peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platforms like Noones? If so, how are you preparing for that?
RY: Peer-to-peer is no doubt public enemy number one for the US. The U.S. does not want Bitcoin to become a true means of exchange in the Global South as it would be the world’s first real threat to the US treasury system. They know peer-to-peer marketplaces are the best path to enable truly free commerce in the Global South and they are terrified of seeing an entire continent break away. I love a challenge and the payoff is worth any risk. Prosperity and peace breaking out all over the world is worth any price so you know I’m going for it.
I respect the power of the empire and do not take its ability to project power lightly. Noones does not serve the U.S. nor the West and does not plan to. I perceive that Binance’s ventures there provided a vulnerable point for potential attacks. Another misstep was Binance’s reliance on a heavily centralised operation. In contrast, we are entering all jurisdictions through the front door, collaborating with the most reputable and innovative regulators worldwide. As for Kraken, I recommend a departure from the US, similar to Western Union’s move to Dubai.
Our biggest defence here are our values. Revolutionary transparency is one of them and it will manifest in ways that will set a new standard for all financial services companies going forward. We at NoOnes are fully committed to Decentralisation and will be the first to integrate CivKit, a fully decentralised protocol built around Bitcoin that will create the world’s first permissionless and unstoppable free market.
Civkit will not just allow for a fully decentralised order book on Nostr, it will also provide the required P2P services to scale such a marketplace, including KYP (know your peer: a peer-to-peer ID system, Civcourts a decentralised court system for financial disputes and the Civdollar, a bitcoin-backed stable currency. We are not going into this alone. I welcome everyone to adopt my idea and compete with me. There is enough for all and the more progress we collectively make, the safer and more prosperous we all become.
BCN: As you already know, a growing number of Africans use cryptocurrency for remittances or as a shield against inflation. However, when it comes to the treatment of cryptocurrencies, many African countries appear to copy and paste everything done by Western regulators, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Some believe ignorance is the main reason why African regulators are imposing inappropriate regulations. Do you agree?
RY: No. While African regulators are a bit behind the West in coming to terms with regulating cryptocurrency there are many smart regulators in Africa that understand all too well the advantage a cryptocurrency-powered economy would give the continent. A pan-African clearing system would change everything and create immense prosperity for African countries.
There are many dedicated individuals in government striving to make positive changes but there are few people reaching out to them. When we first met the regulators in Nigeria in 2021, they expressed that we were the very first company to ever approach them for collaboration. Many companies typically approach regulators with a sales pitch, offering tokens or advocating for the adoption of a valueless blockchain. Such approaches, aimed at selling rather than collaborating, have left regulators wary, given their experiences with scams like MLM and tokens such as Onecoin over the years.
What is needed now is a new financial architect that can create a Pan-African Renaissance. The key to achieving this transformation lies in education and collective empowerment. One of our values at Noones is Bullish Education, focusing on demonstrating how individuals can earn money by building peer-to-peer financial services businesses to connect Africa. Our emphasis is on practical financial education rather than token investments or day trading—a form of education that many of us wish we had received in school. We have been building schools and investing in education since day one and are looking forward to our Gold Coast campus tour next year.
BCN: Recently, an expert told us that customer or user complaints could be a goldmine for improvement if viewed properly. Do you agree with this assertion? Also, how is Noones handling user complaints or queries differently?
RY: YES. Every issue is an opportunity, and every interaction with a user who cares enough to actually give you feedback is precious because they can drop the formula to radically improve your product. Every real product guy knows this. The Noones team spent six months in alpha, improving their marketplace with user feedback, and that impressed me greatly.
The first thing I did as CEO was go to Africa and host a roundtable with the top traders. They literally laid out a goldmine before us, and these users are now our true product team. One of my requirements as CEO is that every C-Level must be boots on the ground with me and do escalations for users just as I do. Empathy and real concern from the bottom up is what makes Noones so different.
This is a true Global South company, and I see it more as a distributed Nation. My formal title is CEO, but I see myself as the Chief Advocate, and our customers know they can come to me directly and often do. Our ultimate measure of success is not revenue or profit but rather, “what change have we made in the day-to-day life of the most vulnerable members of our nation.” This should be the criteria of success for every single civil servant in the world. I haven’t been seeing that, so we shall set the standard and welcome others to follow.
BCN: Finally, we have been seeing varying BTC predictions, and all of them seem to point to a bull market and possibly a new all-time high. However, unlike in the past when an upcoming Bitcoin halving event was the main reason for the bullish predictions, many now see the likely approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs by the SEC as the key factor. What is your take on this?
RY: I don’t agree that the approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs by the SEC is the key factor. Bitcoin in the West has sold out, and now only the Global South can save Bitcoin. As it stands, Bitcoin needs Africa more than Africa needs it. Nigeria leads the entire world in cryptocurrency adoption with official volumes at 59 Billion per year. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the authentic volume is approximately 10 times higher, predominantly facilitated through peer-to-peer transactions.
The people of Africa are turning Bitcoin into a Medium of Exchange as its primary use case. Only someone that has been on the ground understands this. The P2P trading community in Africa is a force. Brothers from the Benin Republic were travelling to Ghana to meet other P2P traders and open new corridors.
It is this work that will make Bitcoin immensely valuable even in the coming years. Every currency first became a medium of exchange and then a store of value. While the West is happy with a pet rock that they can hold and cash out on the Global South is using bitcoin to solve the biggest problem in the world. That takes time, but I believe that within six years, the core of the work will be done, and break-away civilizations all over the Global South will emerge. Africa will have many Dubai-level (and beyond) cities and inspire the entire world.
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