Lagos, Nigeria - With the issuance of its full operating license from the Central Bank of Nigeria ("CBN"), Paga, an innovative financial services platform is now set to offer all Nigerians an easy-to-use and secure money transfer service. Paga enables Nigerians to transfer money to anyone via their mobile phone or Internet connected device, or by visiting any retail agent in Paga's nationwide network.
Paga, founded in 2009, is a home-grown money transfer service with a mission to deliver innovative and universal access to financial services for all Africans. Given the strong backing of investors such as the renowned venture capitalist Tim Draper and Goodwell West Africa, and with strategic relationships across industry sectors in Nigeria, Paga is poised to expand operations nationwide and fundamentally change the way Nigerians think about moving cash.
Speaking on the company's receipt of the full operating license from CBN, Paga Founder and CEO, Mr. Tayo Oviosu, remarked "Simplicity is the great innovation of Paga! Paga is the simplest way for Nigerians to transfer money to anyone in any part of the country. You no longer need to travel with large sums, or give a bus driver money to deliver to your family in the rural areas - now with Paga you simply go to any Paga agent to transfer the money or do so by yourself using your phone or Internet enabled device. You don't need a SIM swap, you don't need a special phone, you don't even need to download an application - all you need is a handset that can send text messages. If you can send a text message, you can use Paga! The simplicity of Paga and ubiquity we achieve via our agent network will deliver the convenience that people want and deserve. Paga will change lives for the better."
Mr. Jay Alabraba, Paga Co-founder and Director of Sales & Business Development, added: "Paga works in partnership with select banks, microfinance institutions, and all mobile network operators in Nigeria. We aim to have at least one Paga agent in every community and on every street corner in Nigeria, and we are making great progress in building this robust network of agents. Retailers see the value in Paga's proposition and love how simple it is to use Paga. Paga enables a significant new line of business for any retailer - by becoming a Paga agent, retailers will attract new customers to their existing locations and also earn a commission for every transaction they perform. During the pilot period alone, over 250 retailers registered and were fully trained to become Paga agents. Today, we already have in excess of 4,000 qualified outlets in the immediate pipeline to start operations as we continue our nationwide expansion. Our network is growing fast and we are excited to bring Paga to new communities every day."
Paga works on even the most basic SMS enabled phones and on all mobile networks, so users have the liberty to access their Paga account regardless of what handset or mobile network they use. Even more, recipients do not need to register on Paga in order to collect cash sent to them - they can simply visit a Paga agent or partner bank to get their cash.
Mr. Eric Chijioke, Paga Chief Technical Officer, added: "Innovation is at the core of our company and we believe strongly in developing "appropriate technology" for our customers - we don't want you to change your behaviour to fit the technology but rather we have built Paga to fit your existing lifestyle. Paga is built for the unique peculiarities of the Nigerian environment. It works on any mobile phone that can send text messages - essentially any mobile phone! We have also invested heavily in developing secure, state-of-the-art technology in-house and spared no expense to ensure the ongoing security and robustness of our service."
Today, many Nigerians use informal methods to transfer money to friends and family. This method presents several risks and often money is lost along the way. Paga leverages the rapid penetration of mobile phones and the improved supporting infrastructure to deliver its service.
Speaking about his personal investment in Paga, Mr. Tim Draper, who is known for his successful investments in Skype, Baidu (Chinese search engine), and Hotmail, said "The world is going mobile and Africa is leading the way in terms of growth rates. What I love about Paga is that the service is available to everyone, either at the agent or via their mobile phone. It also works on all mobile networks. An open platform such as this has the potential to simplify life for millions and millions of people. It also makes Paga an attractive partner for banks, telecom companies and other organizations as they explore opportunities to bring value to consumers even beyond the basic financial services."
Mrs. 'Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Partner of Goodwell West Africa, a firm with a strong focus on financial inclusion across West Africa, added: "Bringing financial services to the masses is vital for the growth of Nigeria's economy. Paga's money transfer service is the first step on a journey that will bring relevant financial services to the doorsteps of millions of Nigerians. We have invested in Paga because we are very confident in the Paga team and in its bold vision - best of all, their traction to date buttresses our confidence."
Commenting on the work of the CBN, Oviosu added "We must commend the CBN for their dedication to bringing safe and convenient financial services to all Nigerians. The regulatory framework put together by the Central Bank has taken the best from various parts of the world where services similar to Paga are offered - India, Kenya, Philippines, South Africa, United States - and layered on the Nigerian situation. To make sure the service is available to all Nigerians, even those that do not have formal identification documents, the CBN framework allows for anyone providing a name and a phone number to use the basic services of Paga. This simple consideration will provide a strong boost for financial inclusion in Nigeria."