Paxful is peer to peer bitcoin marketplace which has been making serious waves in the bitcoin community. Headlined in 2015 for powering Backpage and converting tens of thousands of people into bitcoin enthusiasts, Paxful continues to make waves with the latest addition to their platform: their affiliate program. Guaranteed to convert a whole lot of people to bitcoiners, the paxful affiliate program is a stroke of genius.
Launched in the first quarter of 2016, Paxful’s affiliate program allows website owners and content creators to earn 2% in affiliate fees from all transaction conducted through their affiliate link. All they need do is insert a few lines of code into their website and they earn a thousand percent more in affiliate fees than from any other existing program.
Talking to BTCManager, CEO and co-founder of Paxful, Ray Youssef said, “Right now we are calling it our ‘Affiliate Program’ but it is far more than that. It is more akin to [cost-per-action] programs or Google Adsense combined with a mini web app”.
Aimed primarily at mainstream consumers, the epigram comes in the form of a small iframe window which can be embedded easily into apps and websites. The window is optimized for all devices. The program provides buyers with fastest and easiest experience for buying their bitcoins without having to leave the website they are in. All they need do is indicate what they want, how much they want, select one of four payment methods available and pick up the best deal they get.
Affiliates have their share sent directly to their wallet.
Still talking to BTCManager, Ray Youssef said, “We have had intense demand for this program … and we believe that it will be huge for the space much like what Adsense did for the web”.
In an extensive interview conducted by BTCManager with the CEO Ray Youssef and co-founder Artur Schaback, they talked extensively on the story of Paxful, the future of the platform and what they envision. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
On How Paxful Was Started
Ray Youssef: After the 2008 banking bailout, all of us got a very clear picture of the way things really were. Bitcoin held the promise of giving power back to the little guy. As entrepreneurs, disruption is very attractive. Bitcoin is the most disruptive technology since the Internet itself with the potential to be orders of magnitude more disruptive with the right frameworks in place.
Paxful was born out of necessity. We first built a payment processor for retail bitcoin but without enough bitcoins in mainstream circulation there was no problem to solve. We set out to solve the core problem, to take bitcoin mainstream.
Many have said that the mainstream doesn’t want or need bitcoin but everyday we see more and more businesses turning to bitcoin. Backpage is a premier example. These customers essentially were refugees of the banking system and when Backpage lost Amex, then Visa, Mastercard and every other processors, only bitcoin was there for them and so was Paxful.
Artur Schaback: The challenge of getting a liquid vendor base is always the first and greatest challenge for any market but for us it came quite naturally as many vendors were frustrated at the lack of communication and feedback with the current situation and came to us when they saw how responsive we were to their needs.
Ray Youssef: Listening to our customers to make the system simple enough for them proved to be the biggest business challenge I have ever had as a tech entrepreneur. We encourage everyone in the bitcoin space to spend more time listening to their customers and less time on the wonders of cryptography.
Artur Schaback: We built Paxful to be the friendliest, easiest to use peer-to-peer marketplace for newbies, to get bitcoins fast without bank accounts.
On the Effect of Backpage on the Platform
Ray Youssef: The Backpage effect took us by surprise and it nearly brought us down. Over night we had a flood of new buyers, many of which could barely copy and paste, only had phones, had no bank accounts and had no idea what bitcoin was: they just knew they needed it. We answered nonstop for days, seeing the entire process through their eyes and hearing the desperation in their voices.
Artur and I took all their feedback and tailored Paxful to their needs in real time. It was a frenetic and desperate dash to a finish line that never came, but every time we heard people celebrate when they finally figured it out, it gave us the drive to continue on. These were ‘non technically normal every day folks’ who were desperate to feed their families; we simply could not let them down. We redid the entire system in real time as per their feedback. It was a month of intense support and development and we each got only a few hours of sleep a week but it was worth it.
On Regulation and the BitLicense
Ray Youssef: Regulation has its place. Clearly, the Mt. Gox scandal and the various mining scams should have never happened if there was proper regulation. We do support regulation that is aimed at keeping out bad actors and holding companies to certain levels of civic responsibility, but we do not support regulation whose aim it is to kill innovation.
The BitLicense basically outlawed startup agility by requiring startups to get authorization for new features from the New York Department of Finance before launching. While we support many of their other points, we simply cannot abide something that would effectively outlaw innovation. That hurts all of us and it was what made us leave New York for Northern Europe. It was a great move as we have tripled the size of our team and are moving even faster. Bitcoin is forging a whole new financial landscape, and agility in innovation is our prime asset.
On the Future of Bitcoin
Artur Schaback: Bitcoin will become a pivotal player in the world economy much sooner than people expect but it will not happen in the way most bitcoin early adopters have envisioned.
As wonderful as a decentralized non-inflationary public ledger and currency is, normal people just want a way to pay for things that they need. They want to do it as quickly as possible with the shortest possible learning curve. Learning the finer points of centralized banking and its history is simply not realistic.
The biggest challenge bitcoin faces is its ease of use. Normal folks can type a credit card number into a form online, but for them to copy and paste a long cryptic-looking bitcoin address and a decimal number is a nightmare for non-technical people. Our goal is to make bitcoin as easy to use as a debit card.
Ray Youssef: Bitcoin’s biggest advantages are its irreversibility and the fact that it lives on your computer; these are also its biggest weaknesses, at least in the eyes of normal people. Not being able to recover from a mistake or losing your wallet data and thus all your funds is incredibly scary for people.
Ultimately, bitcoin’s greatest strength is its community. This includes all the vendors who sell bitcoin, all the people who educate about bitcoin and the startups making bitcoin easier to use and supporting customers. It is hard to overemphasize how much good customer support can really put a beautiful face on bitcoin and give bitcoin a huge edge over the banks. This kind of thinking is a huge phase shift for people in crypto space, but it must and will happen as bitcoin approaches the mainstream.