Paxful is a peer-to-peer platform focused primarily on bitcoin. As a peer-to-peer platform, Paxful provides a a bulletin board of purchase and sale offers, rules for settlements, and surveillance of know-your-customer (KYC) rule compliance. Unlike many peer-to-peer platforms, Paxful requires traders to open an account. Chainalysis announced in March 2020 that it provides Paxful with KYC tools.
Banking the unbanked
Paxful's business plan includes a significant social welfare component. In 2018, Co-Founder Ray Youssef told CoinDesk, the online cryptocurrency-focused news service, that the company had supported two schools in Rwanda and that Paxful would partner with institutions in Africa to educate students about bitcoin and how to manage personal wallets. “The huge challenge is educating the educators,” Youssef said. “We want to build our next school in western Africa, preferably Nigeria. We are now looking for build partners on the ground.”
In September 2020, the company posted a blog reporting on the progress its "Built with Bitcoin" initiative had made. Its first school was begun with a 2017 donation from Youssef to a global development organization, ZamZam. The school in Rwanda, served a community of 7,500 with a community center and fresh water resources in addition to education and was the basis for establishing Built with Bitcoin. That organization, which is funded by Paxful, built a two-times larger school in Kigali, Rwanda. According to the blog, the organization was on track to open a third school, for younger children, in Kenya by the end of the year.
After growing by 20% in 2018, Paxful announced that it conducted $1.6 billion in transactions in 2019. Its largest markets, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and other countries in Africa, grew by 57% that year.
Paxful began hiring employees in the troubled country of Venezuela in 2018.
On September 14, 2020, however, the company informed its Venezuelan customers that it was withdrawing from the country, saying, "“Our mission is to help the four billion unbanked and underbanked around the world and we’re truly heartbroken that we aren’t able to extend this calling to the people of Venezuela for now."
Products and services
Paxful began offering services to support gold transactions priced in bitcoin in March 2020. The transaction can be negotiated on the Paxful platform, and once it is agreed Paxful holds the bitcoin in escrow until the gold purchaser confirms acceptance of the physical gold.