Why banked Nigerians need Paga

I sent a tweet yesterday about Paga’s growth in 2016 and got a question in response. Rather than limit myself to 140 characters, I thought I’ll respond here. Below is my tweet and then the question:

When I first had the idea for Paga (in 2009) it was to solve a problem I had — I found it very inefficient that I had to carry cash around with me because POS devices failed a lot, if there were available at all. To make matters worse, ATMs always gave this “issuer inoperative” message. I was banked with two banks — had a Visa card and a MasterCard just in case — yet the issues persisted. The idea I had was to create a system similar to what I had experienced and loved with PayPal. PayPal was not a replacement to my bank accounts but it gave me real flexibility and was easy for me to pay others or pay online with peace of mind. On each transaction I chose where I pulled the funds from — any of my two banks or my American Express card etc.

It is important to note my idea was initially for a banked person — me. However, after very little research I realized the issue was worse for most Nigerians. Only 30% of Nigerian adults are banked. And for all the gains we have made on electronic payments, and we have made gains, we are still cash based society. Indeed, a major reason for inefficiencies in our lives as Nigerians is the way we pay for goods and services.

At Paga we have not yet achieved the vision for our offering in full but with where we are there are real benefits of using our service for a banked customer. On Paga you can send money to individuals, send money to bank accounts (instantly), pay for bills, buy airtime/data, receive remittances, and pay for goods or services online on other sites. Many of these things you can do with your bank’s online banking (thus the question). However, there are six key benefits to using Paga:

  1. Send money to people for pickup at Paga agent or ATM: With Paga you can send money to anyone using their phone number. Recipients do not need to have a Paga account — they can go pick up at any Paga agent (~11,000 across 35 states), or from ATM without a debit card (the cardless ATM withdrawal service is available on 10 banks — GTB, Sterling, Zenith, Union, Fidelity, FCMB, Unity, Access, Stanbic and Heritage).
  2. Transact from multiple bank accounts on one platform: If you have multiple bank accounts, and many banked Nigerians do for various reasons, then Paga offers you one place to transact from without changing your banking behavior. Right now you need to fund your Paga account or use your debit card for the transaction. To fund your Paga account you can transfer from your bank using your Paga account number (in exactly the same way you transfer to another bank). We are working to skip this funding step and recently achieved it for Access Bank. We recently introduced direct account debit — we have Access Bank live and will add other banks this quarter. Also, we will soon allow you save your debit card in your Paga wallet so you don’t need to re-enter it each time you transact. The other benefit you’ll find on Paga is that it is actually easier than most online banking platforms to use.
  3. Setup recurring payments: You can setup any transaction to automatically occur at any time/date and schedule you desire. Every month when I get paid I have about 7 transactions I perform. I’ve set these up as recurring payments on Paga. I sleep easy knowing they will occur…
  4. Safe shopping online — With Paga I don’t need to give any website my debit card or enter my bank details on the website. I simply use my Paga account to pay for my transactions. If there any any issues with the goods or service you can rest assured that the Paga team will help you in investigating and resolving.
  5. Transact using multiple phone numbers — Most Nigerians have multiple phone numbers. You can have up to 5 phone numbers tied to the same Paga account. If you want to transact from your phone using our USSD options it works from any of the 5 numbers. Simply setup your Paga PIN and you can use *242# to transact (still in beta). We also have some cool shortcuts — *242*amount# buys you airtime instantly, *242*amount*account number# gets you to the transfer to bank menu. You can also easily pay your DStv, GOtv and much more via *242#. We are still working with the mobile operators to improve the reliability of this service.
  6. We resolve your issues — An area we pride ourselves in is our customer support. We continue to improve on it, but we put the customer first and work hard to ensure that all issues are resolved.

These are the benefits based on what Paga has on offer today. We continue to build on our services and will bring even greater value to banked customers. Our goal is to complement your existing banking relationship. This is why we partner with the banks.

In another post someday I’ll focus on unbanked or under-banked individuals and the benefits we bring to them.

I would love to get feedback and hear from you. If there are ideas you think we can build upon or ways we can improve our service. Above all, please give us a try and join those who use Paga everyday! www.mypaga.com