What Is Paga?

Paga is a mobile payments platform that allows its users to transfer money electronically and make payments through their mobile devices. Paga acts as a mobile wallet where any user equipped with a mobile device can conduct transactional activities using their device. Paga was founded in Nigeria in 2009 by Tayo Oviosu and publicly launched in 2011.

Key Takeaways

  • Paga is a mobile phone-based payments platform that was first launched in Nigeria.
  • Paga also offers basic banking services such as savings accounts, wire transfers, and merchant services.
  • Emergent technology in the financial sector has made it possible for unbanked people to pay for and receive goods and services using a mobile phone instead of utilizing a brick-and-mortar bank.

How Paga Works

Paga was introduced in Nigeria to take advantage of the cash buildup in the system and to create a means whereby financial services are available to all. Although the banking sector in Nigeria is not easily accessible to everyone, the telecommunications industry has been more successful in reaching a large portion of the country’s population. The collaboration of both the banking and telecom sector has given rise to mobile banking platforms like Paga, where a user can perform basic financial transactions with the use of a cellphone. Paga works through a mobile phone application or online through the company’s website.

With Paga, customers are able to deposit and save money, purchase prepaid phone credit, pay utility and cable bills, and make payments to retailers. The partnership between Paga and Western Union also has the added benefit where Western Money transfers sent to users can be deposited into their Paga accounts.

Paga has numerous outlets across the country where its agents act as human ATMs. A Paga account holder or nonholder who needs to transfer money would give the agent the recipient’s phone number. The agent uses his phone to process the transaction and debits the sender’s account for the amount to be sent and the transaction fee.

Another option that is exclusive to account holders is the online option, in which the account holder can use an internet-enabled mobile device to process the transaction himself. The Paga account can be funded by depositing money with an agent, at a bank, or by using a debit card online.

After funds have been deposited and transferred, the sender and recipient both receive an SMS confirmation, which serves as a receipt of the transaction. The SMS received by the sender confirms the amount of funds debited from the account and a withdrawal code required to access the funds which she or he would relay to the recipient. The recipient uses the withdrawal code at an outlet or a partner bank to withdraw the money sent.

Other Services

In addition to basic banking transactions offered through the mobile payments app and website, Paga has a checkout payment platform that business owners, SMEs and merchants can integrate on their own websites. Clients of these businesses also have the option of making and receiving payments through Paga’s mobile services and agent outlets.

In order to prevent fraudulent transactions, Paga has put certain measures in place to protect its users. A user logging into an unrecognized device, for example, will have to answer a couple of security questions before proceeding. Again, every transaction using Paga has to be finalized with a personal PIN known only to the user.

Furthermore, each user is grouped into three levels. Level I customers are those who registered with a full name and phone number and are limited to a maximum transfer value of ₦30,000 (or $95, as of 2016) per day. Level II customers have their names, phones, addresses and ID card information on file and can transfer up to ₦100,000 (or $300) per day. Finally, Level III clients have a maximum transfer limit of ₦1,000,000 (or $3,000) per day and have two references and a credit check on file in addition to the Level II information provided.

A number of other mobile wallet and payment service platforms are increasingly being implemented in emerging nations that have a high percentage of unbanked groups. M-Pesa, MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money and Orange Money are examples of mobile banking applications that are being employed to include all people in the growing digital financial sphere.

Fintech and Financial Inclusion

The advent of innovative technology in the financial sector (fintech) has seen a phenomenon whereby a cash-driven economy is rapidly evolving into a digital money economy. Consumers and businesses are adapting to emerging technologies that are making financial products and services accessible to the general population for low costs.

However, as developed economies are advancing in financial technology platforms and offerings, some developing nations are lagging in this regard. Some rural areas of developing countries don’t have easy access to banks, and if they do, the minimum deposits required by the banks may be unattainable for the residents of the community. One of the initiatives of fintech is to achieve financial inclusion globally.

The concept of financial inclusion seeks to include the unbanked and underbanked population in the digital banking era. Mobile banking systems such as Paga are being implemented to combat financial exclusion.