This is an opinion editorial by Ray Youssef, a founder and CEO of Paxful and a founder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation.
Bitcoin has had a defining year in 2022 and, as I look back, I couldn’t be more excited for 2023. We’re at a turning point. It is clear that Bitcoin is starting to cut the dead weight of speculation. All eyes are on us and it’s our responsibility to educate people and governments about why Bitcoin has real-life use cases that will allow money to flow freely and include billions more into the global economy. I’m ready to onboard the next billion Bitcoiners.
Here are my 2022 takeaways and predictions for 2023:
The Global South Will Continue To Lead Bitcoin Adoption
I just came back from the Africa Bitcoin Conference in Ghana — an inspirational event bringing together pan-Africa and international leaders to talk about Bitcoin’s purpose over its price (thank you Farida Nabourema!). As a legacy for the event, our team at the Built With Bitcoin Foundation opened the Bitcoin Technology Center (BTC), a learning and training center in Kumasi, Ghana — which is set to educate 400 people in its first year.
This trip reenergized my hope for the future. Even in a bear market, trade volume in Africa continues to press forward. Looking at our volume on Paxful, we predict further increases in both Ghana and Nigeria for 2023. Why? We’re still seeing growth in Africa because of the necessity for Bitcoin on the continent — it offers a cheaper and more efficient solution for people to send money back home, make payments and preserve their wealth. And that does not go away because of market conditions. I expect Africa to continue to lead the way heading into the next year.
The Divide Between Bitcoin And The Rest Will Grow
Bitcoin is backed by human work and has proven its utility beyond the West’s obsession with speculation. It has the ability to bank the unbanked and finally shift the tides of economic apartheid — Bitcoin’s impact cannot be overstated. The bulk of “cryptos” are for wild speculation and investing, relying on the morals of these shady authorities.
As we’ve seen with FTX, people’s life savings can be demolished when there is only a single point of failure. This narrative is the same game the banks have been running for centuries. I’m not buying it. Next year, we will see more Bitcoin-only companies and conferences as the Bitcoin community works to clean up the mess of misinformation caused by these bad actors.
Governments Need A Rethink
Smart regulation fosters safety, but poor- or overregulation stifles innovation and growth. We need to strike a balance and that comes with education. My hope for next year is that more Bitcoin companies come together to share why Bitcoin cannot and should not be regulated as you would, for example, stocks or wheat futures.
It’s our responsibility to also advocate for transparency — like requiring companies to share their proof of reserves. Without this, we’re going to see more far-reaching regulation like the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, which pegs more consumer surveillance as the savior and touts Western Union as an example to lead the industry. We know how that narrative will play out…
‘Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins’ Will Get Louder
The trust of the people was tested this year and I don’t blame them for shying away. Life savings were destroyed because of despicable morals and we need to earn back that trust. This is why I advocate for decentralization and for users to self custody their savings.
Using a non-custodial wallet means that users are their own banks, managing their own money and controlling the future of their own finances. In 2023, we’ll see more of a narrative and product push around self custody. I am already doing my part to amplify this message, including sharing a step-by-step process on how to self custody your bitcoin.
Bear Markets Will Build A Stronger Industry
I am a natural builder and I have gone back to my roots this year. I’ve come to realize that we are not building products for how people live their daily lives in the Global South. There is too much focus on the unrealistic dream of minting millionaires and not enough around the pain points that keeps billions of people enclosed in economic apartheid. Next year, you will see more products that cater to the true needs of everyday people and offer them solutions for remittance, payments, e-commerce, wealth preservation and basic communication.
Bitcoiners, 2023 is looking brighter than ever. This is the way!
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.