Nigerian payments company, Paga won’t be a bank and isn’t afraid of telco PSBs

by | Apr 8, 2019

Nigerian payments company Paga recently celebrated its 10th year anniversary and milestones.

During a media parley to mark the event, founder and CEO Tayo Oviosu, co-founder and Director of Business Operations, Jay Alabraba both highlighted how far the company has come over the years.

Competition was one issue that arose during discussions

In 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU).


Suggested ReadCBN okays telecom operators for payment system in new MoU

This agreement would enable telecommunication companies operate as Payment Service Banks (PSB) and become players in Nigeria’s payments space.

Long excluded telcos have been acquiring this licence with gusto. Airtel Nigeria recently moved to launch its PSB.

Suggested Read; Airtel may be beating MTN to launching a payment service bank in Nigeria

The sheer number of subscribers telcos own raise a fear that they will kill other payments companies and maybe even banks.

Tayo disagrees.

“I think it’s a fallacy that millions of phone numbers will mean that exact number of customers. Let’s not look at Kenya which is always the biggest example for the case for telcos. In terms of similarities, India is a better example. The situation was the same and everyone was afraid telcos would kill companies off, but today they’re not major players in that industry,” he said.

He believes PSBs will be more of competition to fintech than an actual threat.


“We don’t downplay the fact that there will be significant competition, but we know that it’s more than marketing dollars and numbers,” he concluded.

Jay Alabraba said;

“It’s a very big market and there are lots of customers so we’ll find a way to be unique while staying within necessary laws and regulations.”

On its purpose, Paga wants to “make it simple for 1 billion people to access and use money.”

In light of this, is Paga looking to get a banking license anytime soon?

“The beauty of Paga is that we can do anything. But in the last decade, I have learnt that focus is very important. So no, we do not want to be a bank, our goal is to work with and partner banks,” he answers.

The Alipays and Paypals of the world are solving problems without necessarily being banks and Tayo believes Paga can too.

From 47,000 users in 2011, Paga has become an omnichannel payments wallet serving over 12 million and 6,000 businesses in 2019.

The company says it is actively working on an expansion into Ethiopia and Mexico. But no timeline has been fixed yet.

Victor Ekwealor
Victor Ekwealor

tech. media. startups. africa. vc | Twitter: @victor_ekwealor

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