Paga’s journey to 5 million users!
Achieving 5 million users has not been an easy feat, especially in a regulated business, and in a tough operating market such as Nigeria! 7 years ago I set out to solve the inefficiency of payments for businesses and consumers, and make financial services accessible to all Nigerians. We didn’t start real operations to the market until after our Series A in 2012, 3 years after focusing on it full time. We couldn’t afford much marketing until then. Today, we have crossed a major milestone and I’m very proud of what we have achieved!
It’s been a long journey, and success is still not guaranteed, but it has been incredibly fulfilling! Our team of ~200 has achieved so much because each person has been dedicated to the mission and a desire to build something bigger than all of us. To build a company that will have a lasting impact on Nigeria and be around 200+ years in some shape or form. Everyday I feel privileged working with such a great team and with great investors who you know really care about the team.
Being regulated is not easy at all — there is a huge cost to it. First it took us 13 months to get our license — got it in November 2011. Without a license, only one VC (Alitheia Capital/Goodwell) was willing to bet on us…we had money to keep building but we really couldn’t push the business in any strong way. Armed with the license we went out to raise money and closed our Series A in June of 2012 — money in the bank in August of 2012. So, technically, we really started our major push of Paga in September of 2012. At the time of the fundraise we had 125,000 users. Now, 5 million! Major kudos to our team and our agents who work tirelessly towards our mission!
The anchor of our business is our shared agent network — women and men who are entrepreneurs across Nigeria. With 10,000 agents, Paga is the single largest network of financial access points in Nigeria. I love our agents and always enjoy going out to the field and meeting them — they are making a difference in their communities and building valuable businesses for themselves. We have opened our network to the banks and through those relationships we will bring financial services to the mass market.
Despite the macro situation in Nigeria we continue to grow at a strong pace. We hit 3 million users June of 2015. This means in 14 months we have gained 2 million users. Our transactions demonstrate the fast pace of growth even further. From Jan 2012-June 2015 (42 months) we processed US$1bn. The next 12 months, July 2015-July 2016, we processed over US$800m! In the early days of Paga bill payments were our primary transaction set, in the last year we have seen money transfers leading the way and I think that will continue to drive our growth in the next 18 months. The ability to send money P2P and to pay businesses (online and offline) will be the major driver of our growth in this phase of our history. Our P2P story is only just beginning…
For me an even more impressive milestone is right around the corner — 1 million active users. We ended last month with 900k active users but at the rate we are growing we’ll hit 1m by Q4. There are not many financial institutions in Nigeria who have 1 million active users.
I am excited about the milestone we have hit today, however, the journey continues and we have a long way to go. In Q4 we will launch a major upgrade to Paga’s consumer offerings. Soon after, a major upgrade to our online payment gateway. Our goal, as a full service payments business, is to solve the payment needs for all sizes of merchants (without competing with them), and making it easy for consumers to send money to other people or pay for goods and services. We are in for the long haul and will continue our approach of staying heads down to offer the best service possible to our ecosystem. If you are not one of our users, I hope you’ll give us a try and #JustPagait! Register at www.mypaga.com or download Paga for Android.