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Looking Back on A Decade of Making Life Possible

What an incredible adventure it’s been for us at Paga! On April 3rd Paga turns 10! In this post, we are taking a look back at the major milestones we have achieved on the road to our 10 years!

2009 — Paga is founded, the adventure begins!

The ‘money man’ Tayo Oviosu as described by Financial Times, Xan Rice, moved to Nigeria. He got frustrated with carrying cash around and not being able to send money conveniently. Tayo turned his frustration into a mission and started Paga with the goal to make it easy for people to transfer and leverage money for every day basic needs. And we are proud of what Paga has become today — Nigeria’s #1 mobile money operator, creating a service that enables people to digitally send and receive money and providing simple financial access for everyone.

2010 — We received our Mobile Money Approval in Principle by CBN

When Paga applied for a mobile money license in 2009, almost no one knew what mobile money was about. It took working closely with the Central Bank to aid their understanding of the opportunity and set out the framework for mobile money in Nigeria. We got our approval in principle in November 2010 and with that in hand, we could start piloting our solution without any marketing.

2011 — Our Agent Network reached 500 Agents

Our goal at Paga is to solve the “use of cash” problem. To achieve this objective in markets similar to Nigeria where the majority of the population is not banked you need to have neighborhood stores, agents, where people can conveniently put cash into their wallets and also withdraw from their wallet. With our approval in principle on hand, Paga could now recruit agents. In 2011, in less than a year we had recruited 500 agents! We were on our way to delivering financial services to the mass market through our agent network and empowering communities across Nigeria.

2012 — Paga closed a $9m Series A funding

We got our full approval for commercial operations from the Central Bank in November 2011, two years and one month after we applied. With the license in hand, we could now focus on raising the financing needed to drive our vision. We are proud of the investors we were able to bring on board and closed our Series A in June 2012. It was our first major fundraising and we launched commercial operations in August of 2012. In the same year, we received $2m from EFInA to develop and deliver low-cost financial services through our nationwide Agent Network to every community in Nigeria.

2013 — Our Instant transfer to bank service went live and we reached one million users

Our goal is to enable people to transact digitally — send and receive money conveniently regardless of the purpose of the transaction. Convenient transfer to bank accounts is vital in the success of mobile money and we wanted to make sure that both the banked and under-banked could enjoy the benefits that Paga had to offer. This led to the launch of instant transfer to bank services on Paga, solving the issue of customers spending longer hours in banking halls. This was an added convenience we brought to customers. On November 18, 2013, a year and four months after commercial launch, Paga acquired our millionth customer!

2014 — Paga featured on a BBC documentary on the next 4 Emerging Economies — Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey (MINT Countries) hosted by Jim O’Neill.

Jim O’Neill, the former chief economist of Goldman Sachs and person who coined the term “BRIC countries”, coined a similar term “MINT countries” for the next four emerging economies that he believed will be the growth markets that will shape the world’s economy in the coming decades. Mr. O’Neill interviewed Tayo as part of a series on BBC radio discussing the MINT countries. The documentary highlighted Paga as an indigenous startup that has the potential to be a major driver of payments and financial services in Nigeria.

2015 — We closed a $15 million Series B funding

We wrapped up 2015 on a high note with the completion of a $15m Series B funding. This was led by Adlevo Capital and our other institutional investors — Omidyar Network, Goodwell West Africa, Acumen Fund and Capricorn Investment Group. Jeremy Stoppleman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp and one of the early team members at PayPal, was also on the list of our individual investors.

2016 — Our first full year, using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to drive our execution cadence

With our team continuously growing and our mission as an organization getting stronger, it became inevitable to explore ways to ensure alignment and focus within the company. We took learning from companies such as Google and Uber and started using a framework called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to drive the execution of our business. Each year we set company OKRs and on a quarterly basis teams set their own OKRs to align to the company annual goals. Each week teams meet to review the progress of the quarterly OKRs and then make commitments for the coming week. OKRs have been instrumental in ensuring alignment and a laser-focused execution.

2017 — We launched *242# and received our IMTO license

Every day, we continue to innovate ways to give everyone access to our platform and the launch of our USSD *242# platform is just another example of innovation at work. With the launch of *242# in 2017, all Nigerians with a mobile phone (even feature phones) can now use Paga via a menu driven system. We are one of the few mobile money schemes in the world to have such a service across all mobile networks. In 2017 we also received our International Money Transfer license which now enables Nigerians in the diaspora be able to send money to anyone in Nigeria with a mobile phone number.

2018 — New mobile apps, JustPaga.me, positive earnings after operational costs, and closed a $10m Series B2 funding

At Paga, we are always innovating and believe very much in the concept of “appropriate technology” which means offering technology solutions well timed to market demand and needs. In 2018 we launched a completely new mobile experience with our Android and iOS apps. At the same time, we launched sending money to email addresses and our request money feature that now allows any Nigerian to request money from anyone using their phone number or email. Also, we introduced our JustPaga.me URL where they can receive payments from anyone. Talk about easy access to getting paid! Operationally it was a big year for us as 2018 was our first full year of positive earnings after operational costs — this milestone is important because we achieved it in a sustainable way. And finally, we closed a $10m Series B2 funding led by Global Innovation Fund.

2019 — We reached 12 million users!

Wow! It took us 4 years from our commercial launch in August 2012 to reach 5 million users and then 2.5 years after that to acquire another 7 million users as we hit 12 million users on March 8, 2019! Since commercial launch, we have processed over 71 million transactions worth over N1.2 trillion ($4.6b)! For us, it is not just about the numbers but what they represent. The lives touched and how our service has truly made life possible for millions by making it simple for them to send or receive money.

Our adventure doesn’t stop here though. We are committed to scaling our business in Nigeria and are excited by our roadmap of services. In the next 10 years, we want every Nigerian to be using Paga to pay for everything — the barber, restaurants, e-commerce, even when on a motorbike! In the next 10 years, we are also excited about taking our platform and offering to other countries as we pursue our purpose to make it simple for one billion people to access and use money!

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