Paga recently announced hitting the 9 million unique user mark on its mobile payment platform, up from 8 million users just in January 2018.
This is a great feat for one of the top mobile money operators in the country. But recent figures from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) question this claim.
NIBSS -- which gave an award to Paga for recording the highest transaction volume in 2017 -- reports that there were 1.5 million customers (PDF) in the mobile money industry as at March 2018.
According to the Enterprise Intelligence Unit of NIBSS, the figures in its Q1 report are as provided by CBN. All efforts to reach the apex bank for further clarification proved abortive.
Worthy of note is that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) categorises Pagatech -- the parent company of Paga -- as a non-bank led (commercial licence) mobile money operator. It can be concluded that customers on Paga are considered in the statistics provided by the CBN.
According to Paga, 'unique users' includes everyone that has transacted on the payment platform, either through its agent network or self-transaction. Mobile numbers are used as unique identifiers. If someone that’s not registered on the payment platform uses an agent for any financial services -- like depositing cash to send to a Paga user, or receiving cash from a Paga user -- Paga identifies them as a 'use'r, via their mobile number. This happens once and does not count for future transactions.
However, using two different mobile numbers for separate transactions with the same or different agents would record you as two unique users.
Recently, the payment platform launched a new mobile transfer mobile app for Android and iOS. Its previous app had over 10,000 installs before being taken down and its standalone agent app has 5,000+.
Worthy of note is that both Paga agents and users can initiate financial services using its USSD channel.
Speaking recently during the private launching of the app, Paga founder and CEO, Tayo Oviosu affirmed that there are 1.6 million active users on the platform.
The big question; where did CBN get its figures from?
If with 9.1 million unique users, there are 1.6 million active users on Paga, it can be assumed that the reported 8 million users translate to a 1.406 million active users in March 2018.
Even on the assumption that the 1.5 million users as quoted by the CBN are the active customers in Q1, it still questions Paga’s current active users, as it is not the only mobile payment platform in Nigeria.