My brief experience with Paga

Yesterday, someone needed some money urgently and didn’t want to have to wait till the money reflected in her bank account, so I offered to send it via Paga.

How Paga Helps

I’ve known about Paga for a while, but didn’t think about visiting the website to know more until sometime in the past few weeks, and I only got curious because it kept popping up on my radar for one reason or the other e.g. they’ve been in the news in recent times for partnering with Uber Nigeria. There are quite a number of payment solutions and systems in Nigeria and while I suspect they serve different needs, somehow I feel like (and I know this feeling is based on wrong or lazy assumptions, but I still feel like) they all tell the same story and attempt to help you do the same things — pay for airtime online (which I already do via internet banking), pay bills online (also internet banking, and sometimes paying with my debit card on the bill collector’s website), accept payments on your site, etc.

Well, one thing that Paga does differently is they let you send money to someone else, and the person does not need to have a bank account. I’d say reaching the unbanked is probably a major reason this service exists, and I like it.

Sending Money

Sending money is relatively straightforward: You have to sign up for an account, verify your account, and then you can get to sending. 
 To send, you’d have to either fund your Paga account or send directly from your bank account, using your debit card. Cool.

Receiving Money

After you send, letting the recipient know how they can access the money is important, and this is where my ‘research’ skills had to come in handy. That’s not a good thing. 
 The first major step (after clicking around for a while with no sensible results) was to visit the FAQs section. I saw something on withdrawing money, and clicking it produced this:

First, there’s a ‘how paga works’ link at the top, but guess what? Like all the other links in the navigation bar, it leads to, i.e. the Home Page. Sigh.

Second, the main information on this page basically tells me in so many words that to withdraw money that’s been sent, I have to either provide an agent with my “phone number, the withdrawal amount and…” alternatively, I “may visit any GTB ATM that offers cardless withdrawal service with the ATM release code and…”

Okay, what agent? This is the first time I’m hearing about an agent. There’s a ‘Find an agent’ link at the top of the home page, but that doesn’t tell me anything about who an agent is or what their role is. And, I already know what an agent does, but that’s because I recently came across this. Does [a person who is hearing about or visiting Paga’s website for the first time] know?

About “visiting a GTB ATM that offers cardless withdrawal service…”: Well, what’s that? How do I identify this ATM? Because that statement implies that some do and some don’t offer cardless withdrawal. Also, how do I perform the withdrawal? I’ve never had to do a cardless transaction, and I’m sure it gets easier after the first time, but that first time could be intimidating ESPECIALLY if you have impatient people on the queue behind you and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

Anyway, it was time to Google. I did, and found all sorts of things, including this video by Paga about how to withdraw from an ATM without a card, and this post about how you can withdraw from any GTB or First Bank ATM. Great.

What can be done better

As I said before, having to visit all sorts of links on the site and on Google isn’t the best. Designing a good user experience in this case would have been to include an actual ‘How it works’ section or page, or otherwise make sure information is not difficult to locate. Somehow, I feel like the information is somewhere on the site, but less-than-stellar information architecture has made it a pain to find.

You might think everyone should be able to figure out what an agent does, but spelling it out means I don’t have to think about it or figure it out myself, and that makes for a smoother experience. Spell out the steps concisely, e.g.

  • Find your nearest Paga agent here. [Click here to see what an agent does]
  • Tell the agent your phone number, amount that was transferred, and 5-digit withdrawal code.
  • If you received a text notifying you of a transfer, but didn’t receive a 5-digit code from the sender, click here. Otherwise, call customer care on 0700–00000–7242

In the end, I managed to piece all the required info together, and I wrote (what I think was/is) a detailed step-by-step for this person to receive the money, and all was well with the world again. [I wrote it in a Note app first, but then edited in Google Docs to remove personal and security details.]

Then, for the sake of this post, I sketched something that could work as part of a ‘How it Works’ section on the home page:

It needs to be refined and modified, of course, but this is better than nothing, and if implemented ‘responsively’, the 2 option cards should stack on top of each other on mobile phones.

That’s all I have this week, thanks for reading!

P.S. I figured out how to receive money before actually sending it, because of course I wanted to minimize the risk of it being too difficult to access by the person who needed it.

Originally published at on January 30, 2016.

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