Lagos, July 2, 2012 – Paga, Nigeria’s leading money transfer service launched in February 2011, today announced it has secured new investments from Adlevo Capital, Omidyar Network, Acumen Fund, Capricorn Investment Group, and current investors Goodwell West Africa Microfinance Development Company.
Paga’s mission is to deliver innovative and universal access to financial services for all Nigerians. The company plays a critical role in enabling a cashless Nigeria and delivering access to finance to the over 80% of Nigerians that are un-banked or under-banked. The company uses a multi-stakeholder approach. Paga is available on all mobile networks and is delivered to customers in collaboration with strong local banks (including microfinance institutions), retailers and various other private and public sector organisations.
Paga enables any person with a mobile phone or Internet access to send cash to anyone in Nigeria, buy or send airtime credit, pay bills, pay both online and physical retail stores (without cash notes or a debit card), and perform a variety of other transactions. Individuals can also perform these transactions in their communities by visiting any agent in Paga’s growing network, comprising of more than 850 agents currently located in 19 cities.
Commenting on the purpose of the investment, Paga’s founder & CEO, Tayo Oviosu, said “The business opportunity for Paga is huge, and it follows that the capital requirement to achieve our mission is also significant. A key requirement for success in our industry is having investors who share our vision and have the financial fortitude for such an undertaking. To date, we have been funded by individual investors and Goodwell. We are humbled by the interest we continue to receive from both local and international institutional investors. This investment will enable Paga to scale our operations across Nigeria and allow us to build upon our front-runner position. We have carefully chosen our investors for their track record and the immense value they will bring towards accomplishing our mission.”
Speaking on the opportunity presented by Paga, Yemi Lalude, managing partner at Adlevo Capital, said “Nigeria is Africa’s largest consumer market and a key requirement for commerce to grow is efficient payment systems across all spectrums of society. What we like about Paga is their holistic approach to servicing merchants by providing a secure and simple solution for both banked and un-banked users to pay for goods and services. We are impressed with the calibre and accomplishments of the Paga team and proud to have led this financing round.”
Arjuna Costa, director of investments at Omidyar Network, added, “Omidyar Network is very pleased to invest in Paga. The company’s innovative mobile solutions for commerce combined with its potential to enable financial inclusion broadly could be key factors in driving large scale social impact. By replacing cash as the primary method of payment, Paga enables real-time transactions that are more accessible, transparent and inclusive. We believe Paga has the potential to rapidly scale and improve the lives of millions across Nigeria and the region.”
Speaking further on Paga’s social impact, Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, said “We think Paga’s innovative offerings will go a long way in bringing new economic opportunities to people that have been underserved by traditional financial services.” With more than half of Nigerians living on less than $1 a day, it is critical to find ways to deliver low cost financial services to the un-banked and under-banked. Godfrey Mwindaare, the director of Acumen Fund’s West Africa office, added “The Paga team is already working to deliver on its plans for low cost savings products, micro-insurance, and other financial services through its agent network and in partnership with strong local banks. We look forward to working with Paga and the investor consortium that Paga has attracted to help the company achieve its goal of bringing financial access to 40 million Nigerians by 2015.”
Speaking on Paga’s success to date, early investor, ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, managing director of Alitheia Capital, co-manager of Goodwell West Africa Microfinance Development Company said “As the first institutional investor in Paga, Goodwell has always believed in the opportunity of a platform like Paga to foster financial inclusion in Nigeria. From the onset, Paga has continually exceeded expectations and this strengthens our confidence in Paga’s ability to achieve its goals. Paga’s success thus far has led to the quality of investors that are now joining us on this journey for the long-term.”
Elaborating on the investment, Dipender Saluja, managing director of Capricorn Investment Group, said “Our belief in the power of innovation to catalyze economic and social advancement drew us to Paga. Paga’s platform offers consumers a secure way to process financial transactions. Millions of Nigerian consumers who rely on cash can now use their mobile devices, the internet, or Paga agents to make payments and purchase goods. Paga has tremendous potential and we look forward to working with the team to build a great company.”
Speaking further on innovation, Oviosu said “Innovation is at the core of Paga. Paga is a home-grown solution that overcomes a core challenge in Nigeria – how to transfer money or pay for anything without physically carrying cash. Imagine a day you walk into your local provision store, to buy provisions for the weekend and you don’t need to carry cash, or even your wallet! Simply, all you have is money in Paga. The storeowner processes your transaction via Paga and now has his money in the bank. The opportunities abound and this is why investors have put their weight behind our team to help us achieve our mission.”
Since launching to the general public, Paga has processed over 276,000 transactions worth more than N2.6 billion. On June 4 2012, Paga achieved a major milestone and crossed 100,000 unique users. Today Paga has over 125,000 users.
Customers can use Paga directly from their mobile phones or Internet-enabled devices by visiting www.mypaga.com or a Paga agent. Recipients of money sent can simply go to any Paga agent to collect the funds and do not need to be Paga customers to do so.
Paga was advised on this investment round by international law firm Norton Rose LLP (Partner – Bayo Odubeko) and the investors were advised by Bowman Gilfillan (Partner – Lele Modise).