Nigeria’s Mobile Wallet Paga Snags $10M, Expands Cross-Border

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Nigerian digital payments startup Paga has received $10 million in funding as it prepares to expand into other countries. CEO Tayo Oviosu announced at Disrupt San Francisco, according to reports, that the company is planning to release its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico and the Philippines as it plans to compete with heavy hitters, such as PayPal, Alipay and Safaricom’s M-Pesa.

“We are not only in a position to compete with them; we’re going beyond them,” he said of Kenya’s M-Pesa, which has 20 million active users and does business abroad. “Our goal is to build a global payment ecosystem across many emerging markets.”

Founded in 2012, Paga allows users to transfer money, pay bills and make purchases digitally. The service already has 9 million customers in Nigeria, including 6,000 businesses, and the company recently launched a new money transfer app that makes the peer-to-peer (P2P) payment process even easier from mobile devices.

The company also has remittance partnerships with Western Union and Moneytrans, and allows for third-party integration of its app.

Oviosu says that, in Nigeria, the startup has processed 57 million transactions worth $3.6 billion. While the company doesn’t release financials, it reached profitability in 2018 — and its leader is confident that Paga will be a success across the border.

“Why not us?” Oviosu asked. “People sit in California and listen to Spotify that was developed in Sweden, and Uber started somewhere before going to different countries and figuring out local markets,” he said. “The team behind this business has worked globally for some of the top tech names. This platform can stand shoulder to shoulder with any payments company built somewhere else.”

As part of the $10 million funding round, Global Innovation Partners will take a board seat. Other participants in the funding include Goodwell, Adlevo Capital, Omidyar Network and Unreasonable Capital. Paga said the company will use the funds to grow its core development team of 25 engineers across countries and continents, as well as continue its work toward expansion.