Paxful Exchange shutdown: Here’s what happened 

Written by Mary Idomo

April 14, 2023

On April 4th, 2023, Paxful, a well-known US-based P2P Bitcoin exchange declared that it was ceasing its operations. Ray Youssef, the founder, and CEO of Paxful, revealed on a Twitter space that the closure was a result of regulatory obstacles and key staff departure from the company. Youssef reassured customers that their funds were safe and had been accounted for, and advised them to withdraw their money. Nevertheless, the future of the exchange remains uncertain, as it is unclear whether it will return.

Paxful has faced several obstacles recently due to high regulatory compliance requirements. This has prevented the company from fully pursuing its peer-to-peer mission. Its use of gift cards to attract African users without bank accounts resulted in regulatory scrutiny in the US. 

Moreover, despite its success in becoming a popular platform for buying Bitcoin in Africa since its launch in 2015, Paxful also struggled with internal issues such as leadership conflicts, arbitrary employee dismissals, and drug use in the workplace. Recently, it’s also facing legal issues with its former COO and co-founder, Artur Schaback. who filed a lawsuit against it in January and named Youssef and Jude Chidi Ogene as defendants. Until March, Ogene served as Paxful’s chief legal officer, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Paxful has become the latest crypto firm to shut down operations due to the effects of the crypto winter that hit in 2022. With Terra Luna’s collapse and the dramatic end of FTX wiping out $60 billion from the market, the entire crypto ecosystem has been under a lot of pressure. Furthermore, regulatory bodies are increasingly cracking down on crypto startups. According to Youssef, while regulators are making some progress in their comprehension of cryptocurrencies, they still have a long way to go.

Youssef reassures Paxful users 

On April 6th, Ray Youssef announced that he was working on a plan to reimburse users’ funds using his own money. This move is an attempt to adhere to the law and steer clear of any additional legal issues following the sudden shutdown of his exchange. Youssef noted that he’s at risk of being sent to prison for not complying with court orders relating to the release of Paxful’s frozen funds, which led him to take this extreme measure.

Paxful alternatives 

As part of Paxful’s efforts to protect and give out customers’ funds, customers have been directed to use Exodus Wallet and Muun Wallet to take control of their funds themselves. Additionally, the company is making it easy for non-U.S. customers to switch to other options, including Noones, a new P2P company focused on serving P2P users, and Bitnob, which simplifies Bitcoin transactions for Africans.

Youssef is personally endorsing Noones, which has benefits such as lower trading fees, a less expensive Bitcoin wallet, and a more generous affiliate program than Paxful’s. Noones also has a more efficient KYC process, customer support, local dispute moderators, and a friendlier TOS policy that doesn’t result in account locking. However, it isn’t available to users in the USA, UK, Russia, and a few more countries.

Furthermore, Noones has features that are almost similar to Paxful’s, including the option for users to access escrow. Additionally, Noones plans to introduce Lightning functionality in a few weeks. The platform is made up of three main components: a messaging service, a marketplace, and a digital wallet app. Existing Paxful users can log into Noones with the same credentials and they would see their KYC, and trade history, in their Noones’ account. Users also have the option of transferring their funds from Paxful to Noones directly.

Ray Youssef’s new project with Jack Dorsey 

Ray Youssef is also collaborating with Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, to create a peer-to-peer Bitcoin buying and selling platform called Civilization Kit (Civ Kit). Youssef plans to launch the platform in less than two weeks. Crypto observers wonder if it’s another copy of Paxful or a groundbreaking new addition to the Bitcoin ecosystem. 

Civ Kit will be built on the Nostr decentralized social media protocol and allow users to create their own decentralized Bitcoin marketplaces on top of it. Youssef believes that Civ Kit is the most exciting development in the world of Bitcoin since its creation. 

Final thoughts

The closure of Paxful’s P2P exchange comes at a time when regulators are increasing their interference with crypto exchanges operating in the United States. It draws closer attention to the problems that are currently being faced by the industry and also reinforces the need for self-custody for most crypto traders and investors. Additionally, it stresses the necessity of having reliable and secure P2P cryptocurrency exchanges that can deal with regulatory challenges while safeguarding clients’ funds.

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