I'm Tayo Oviosu, Founder & CEO of Paga, ask me anything :)


#1

Hi everyone! I’m Tayo Oviosu - founder and CEO of Paga. I’m very excited to be here on Radar and join the conversation. I started Paga over 6 years ago out of my own frustration carrying cash around with me - there had to be a better way to pay or get paid! I boot strapped the company for the first 6 months before I started raising financing from angels and then eventually institutional investors.

Today, Paga is a payments business with two primary channels - a network of physical stores (agents) and an online/mobile platform. We recently crossed 3 million users, with over 800k active, and now have over 8,000 agents in 35 of 36 states of Nigeria. Our company has 208 employees and we are committed to making an efficient payment system accessible to all Nigerians.

You can ask me anything here, and I will do my best to answer accurately and give the info!


Paga has raised $13 million in series B funding
Where Are Paga Users? How Do They Access Paga? Through Apps or Browser? What Apps & Phones Do They Use?
Radar AMA: Ask Tayo Oviosu Anything
Radar Community Update 5
#2

Hello ,

Great to have you here. What was your biggest challenge? and how were you able to overcome it?


#3

Temporarily closing this topic. The AMA is scheduled for Thursday, the 2nd July, 4PM GMT+1. New replies and questions will be allowed from 3pm. Thanks! And sorry for making you wait @kelz

:smile:


#4

#5

This topic is now opened. Let the AMA begin!

So, Tayo. On the 3rd of April, you tweeted thus;

March was a record month for @mypaga: 197k new users, 780k active (90 days), 740k txns worth N6bn! Naija #justpagait

It’s been six years already! Congrats. Pardon the cliche, but what have been the most significant high and not-so-high points of that journey?

You’ve said repeatedly that Paga is not a mobile money service, but somehow the perception persists. Can you explain your thinking in that regard, and perhaps bust the urban legend once and for all? Could you explain like it’s to a, er, six year old, what Paga is?


#6

Hi Tayo,

Financially, what was it like running the business in the early days, specifically for those first 6 months before any outside investments came in? Did you have to borrow money from friends/family or did you save everything all on your own to get started?

Also I’m curious as to why you released an Android app before iOS/Windows and if there are any plans to release apps on other platforms?


#7

Hi @lordbanks - thanks for having me on Radar! Always good to be part of TechCabal!! Thanks also for the congratulations on 6 years - I am always amazed at how quickly time flies. The highs always change. I remember the first time I used Paga and got an automated phone call back - I screamed “it works!”…my current high is serving 3million users and over 8,000 agents. When I meet our agents and they thank me for what Paga is doing for their lives and families I know it is all worth it…

On the lows, I must say my biggest low was when the first person I asked to join me on this journey decided to leave less than 2 years in. That was really tough for me especially because it wasn’t on the best of terms and I also lost a dear friend in the process…


#8

Hi @oviosu I have 2 questions:

  1. How do you plan to make more registered users active?
  2. What has been your most effective marketing strategy?

Cheers


#9

@lordbanks I must say candidly no one, and I challenge you to try, has ever given me a definition of what “mobile money” is that makes sense to me.

However, lets leave that aside and talk about what Paga is…Paga is a payments company with two channels - a) network of agents and b) online/mobile (mypaga.com or our Android App).

Customers can use either of these channels to perform a variety of transactions - send money to any phone number (recipient doesn’t need to be a Paga customer - they pick up at another agent); send money to any bank account in Nigeria; pay bills or buy airtime.

At the agent you simply give the agent cash, you don’t need to be a Paga customer.

If you have a Paga account you can also use your Paga account for e-commerce so you don’t need to give out your card or bank details to any website!

So, for the 6 year old, I keep it simple “Think Payments, Think Paga! Paga helps you pay for things”


#10

Hi Tayo,

I’ll like to know what percentage of users on Paga pay for products or services as compared to only purchasing airtime. Is there growth in this direction?


#11

Hi @Bisong thanks for joining the conversation. I bootstrapped Paga for the first 6 months…it is tough!! After my first investor meeting, which was a negative response, my uncle asked me “Do you think Google and Yahoo wanted to start in a garage?” Even though I lived in Silicon Valley for so long I never once considered this question. He continued “of course they didn’t - do whatever it takes to move you forward” In the early days you should talk to people who know you and believe in you. Hopefully you have some people who can give you money to do the things that matter to prove your idea or demonstrate it.

One of the first things I did with Paga was build a fully functional, and really cool I might add, Blackberry App demo. Interestingly we’ve never built the app and we only just came out with an Android app this year. The reason for Android is easy - it is the fastest growing OS in Nigeria. We will do IOS/Windows over time…


#12

Hi Tayo, how do paga differentiate in a market with loads of competitors? For example, Konga just acquired Zinternet.


#13

Hi @Lamidi_b_a thanks for joining the conversation. We currently have over 800k active users - this is something we are very proud of and stands tall against any other scheme globally. We absolutely want more and I just left a strategy discussion on ideas to further drive these numbers. Unfortunately we are in a competitive market so my lips are sealed :wink: hope you understand.


#14

Hello Tayo Oviosu. It’s a rare privilege and opportunity to be able to interact with you.

  1. Congratulations on such an impressive number of subscribers and network of over 8,000 agents nationwide. When you started out, was traction a deliberate strategy? If yes, what strategies did you put in place in order to achieve the first 500,000 subscribers or first 1000 agents?
  2. As a mobile payment service, what was your MVP like when you launched your company?
  3. You started Paga 6 years when the Nigerian ICT infrastructure wasn’t as sophisticated as today. How were you able to overcome to inherent limitations in the system back then? Were there moments when your system crashed or went offline?
  4. What do you think are the reasons why mobile payment services such as Paga aren’t widely accepted in Nigeria like mPesa is in Kenya?

Thank you once again.


#15

Hi Tayo,

Congrats on surviving 6 years in the trenches :grinning:. My question is, what is Paga’s view on innovation? Does Paga see itself as strictly a payment company? What part do you think innovation will play in propelling Paga for the next 10 years? Can we expect spinoffs of your core product or acquisitions of smaller innovative companies?


#16

@oviosu

Thanks for taking out time. A few questions

  1. In your opinion, what is the single biggest CBN policy holding electronics payments back?
  2. I am an early adopter of Paga (2011) and I have to say Nigerian e-payments in general have not moved as fast as we would have liked. When you started then, what did you assume Nigeria should have had by now (infrastructure wise) that it doesn’t? e.g a competitive alternative switch to Interswitch?
  3. What is the single biggest transaction done via Paga. Your funding? :smiley:
  4. What helps YCombinator and SV startups (especially B2B) is there being this large subset of (loyal) early adopter businesses to try out new thing. How do we best champion that mindset here in Lagos/Nigeria?
  5. You made me pay attention to Ethiopia and Rwanda as places in Africa one should visit. What other non obvious countries (Kenya/SA) on this continent do you think we are overlooking for business and/or pleasure. I am thinking Morocco but I have never been there.
  6. It’s time to take sides… Windows vs. Mac? Android vs.iOS? Egusi vs. Ogbono ?:smiley:

And thanks for always having time to chat with fellow founders on the same rugged journey!


#17

In all humility, the first time I heard of ZInternet was when the news came out…let’s separate competitors from licenses. If there is anything I have learned it is a) Focus is King and b) Don’t underestimate anyone. I’ll leave it at that and say Nigeria is a very big market and there is room for more than one successful payments company. I also know by experience that our business is incredibly tough, I can’t imagine fighting an expensive battle on multiple fronts…


#18

Hello Tayo, first of all, nice work. I was just saying on Twitter yesterday that Paga has the lowest barrier of entry for a person trying to setup online payments despite some minor issues.

My question: Due to an experience I won’t elaborate on, I learned that Paga’s tech is developed and maintained outside the country. If, as mentioned above, Paga has hundreds of thousands of Nigerians patronizing your service and bringing you revenue, why have you chosen to not recruit local developers and give them a chance to work on a project of this magnitude?

Sorry, I’m always THAT guy(girl!).

You’ve said repeatedly that Paga is not a mobile money service, but somehow the perception persists.

First I’m hearing of this, but I can see why this perception would persist. Using myself as an example (and it’s my experience that made me interested in this chat): Yesterday, I chatted with a customer care agent who insisted that the only way to identify users on the Interswitch form is by sending their phone number, something I don’t require of my users. On pointing out that other times I’ve implemented an Interswitch form with GTPay, the user’s ID and name showed up, the agent went on to explain that Paga is classified as a ‘mobile money’ company, and as such the required identification for users is their number. I don’t have a question here, really, but clearly, it seems Paga self-identified as a mobile money company first. Thoughts?


#19

@lordbanks we need to limit @OoTheNigerian questions :smile:


#20

Hahaha, I think he’s done for today :joy: