money

With a $10 million round, Nigeria’s Paga plans global expansion

Posted by | africa, alipay, Android, Bank, bank transfers, california, cellulant, ceo, Column, e-commerce, economy, ethiopia, Finance, kenya, M-Pesa, Mexico, mobile devices, mobile payment, money, Nigeria, Omidyar Network, online payments, p2p, PayPal, Philippines, Safaricom, San Francisco, Spotify, Sweden, Uber, vodafone, western union | No Comments
Jake Bright
Contributor

Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa.

Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for an international expansion with $10 million in funding let by the Global Innovation Fund. 

The company is planning to release its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch at Disrupt San Francisco.

Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom’s M-Pesa, according to Oviosu.

“We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he  said of Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile money product. “Our goal is to build a global payment ecosystem across many emerging markets.”

Founded in 2012, Paga has created a multi-channel network and platform to transfer money, pay-bills, and buy things digitally that’s already serving 9 million customers in Nigeria—including 6000 businesses. All of whom can drop into one of Paga’s 17,167 agents or transfer funds from one of Paga’s mobile apps.

Paga products work on iOS, Android, and basic USSD phones using a star, hashtag option. The company has remittance partnerships with the likes of Western Union and Moneytrans and allows for third-party integration of its app.

Paga has also built out considerable scale in home market Nigeria—which boasts the dual distinction as Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

Since inception, the startup has processed 57 million transactions worth $3.6 billion, according to Oviosu.

That’s no small feat given the country straddles the challenges and opportunities of growing digital payments. Only recently did Nigeria’s mobile and internet penetration break 50 percent and 40 percent of the country’s 196 million remain unbanked.

To bring more of Nigeria’s masses onto digital commerce, Paga recently launched a new money transfer-app that further simplifies the P2P payment process from mobile devices.

For nearly a decade, Kenya’s M-Pesa—which has 20 million active users and operates abroad—has dominated discussions of mobile money in Africa.

Paga and a growing field of operators are diversifying the continent’s payment playing field.

Fintech company Cellulant raised $47 million in 2019 on its business of processing $350 million in payment transactions across 33 African countries.

In Nigeria, payment infrastructure company Interswitch has expanded across borders and is pursuing an IPO. And Nigerian payment gateway startups Paystack and Flutterwave have digitized volumes of B2B transactions while gaining global investment.

So why does Paga—a Nigerian payments company—believe it can expand its digital payments business abroad?

“Why not us?,” said CEO Oviosu. “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 added.

“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,” he said.

On that platform, Oviosu underscores it has positioned itself as a partner, not a rival, to traditional banks. “Our ecosystem is not built to compete with you, it’s actually complimentary to you,” he said of the company’s positioning to big banks—enabling Paga to partner with seven banks in Nigeria.

Paga also sees potential to adapt its model to other regulatory and consumer environments. “We’ve built an infrastructure that rides across all mobile networks,” said Oviosu. “We’re not trying to be a bank. Paga wants to work with the banks and financial institutions to enable a billion people to access and use money,” he said.

As part of the $10 million round (which brings Paga’s total funding up to $35 million), Global Innovation Partners will take a board seat. Other round participants include Goodwell, Adlevo Capital, Omidyar Network, and Unreasonable Capital.

Paga will use the Series B2 to grow its core development team of 25 engineers across countries and continents. It will also continue its due diligence on global expansion—though no hard dates have been announced.

On revenues, Paga makes money on merchant payments, bank to bank transfers, and selling airtime and data. “As we roll out other services, we will build a model where we will make money on savings and lending,” said the company’s CEO.

As for profitability, Paga does not release financials, but reached profitability in 2018, according to Oviosu—something that was confirmed in the due diligence process with round investors.

On the possibility of beating Interswitch (or another venerable startup) to become Africa’s first big tech IPO, Oviosu plays that down. “For the next 3-5 years I see us staying private,” he said.

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Amazon-backed lending platform Capital Float buys consumer finance startup Walnut

Posted by | Amazon, Android, Apps, Asia, Capital Float, economy, Finance, financial services, Fundings & Exits, india, money | No Comments

India-based lending platform Capital Float has been busy raising capital, having closed an Amazon-led $22 million extension to its $45 million Series C last year —  now it’s putting some of that capital to work after it acquired personal finance service Walnut.

The acquisition is $30 million spread across cash and stock, the companies said, and it’ll boost five-year-old Capital Float’s move into the consumer space. The company has to date focused on serving SME and business customers, but last year it began to offer financial services to consumers.

Walnut helps consumers manage their finances and track spending, and it claims seven million downloads on Android . It also includes a feature — Walnut Prime — that offers an instant credit line. Already, it said, it has handed out nearly $15 million in consumer loans.

“Walnut Prime is a product of deep interest to us, and it will essentially become a new addition
to our stable of exceptional, customized credit products,” Capital Float co-founders Sashank Rishyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja said in a statement.

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Google Assistant on phones now lets you send and receive money

Posted by | Android, Google, Google Pay, iOS, money, TC | No Comments

“Hey Google, send Brian $15 for breakfast today.” Starting today, you can use this command to tell the Google Assistant on your phone to send money to people with Google Pay, the re-branded version of what you may still think of as Android Pay. And if Brian, as usual, forgets to pay you back, you can also say: “Hey Google, request $20 from Brian for breakfast today.”

For now, this feature is only available on phones, but Google tells us that it plans to offer the same functionality through its Google Home speakers in the coming months. One of the reasons for this is probably the fact that the phone offers a more secure process for authenticating who you are. On the phone, Google will ask for either a password or a fingerprint to make sure who are who you say you are. Google Home can already recognize different speakers, but for now, it’s unclear how Google will securely authenticate users there.

Since quite a few people probably don’t have Google Pay set up yet, the Assistant will walk you through the setup process when you first try this feature. Sending and receiving money through Google Pay is free.

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French peer-to-peer payment app Lydia adds Apple Pay support

Posted by | Apple, apple inc, Apple Pay, eCommerce, Finance, google wallet, mastercard, Mobile, mobile payments, money, payments, peer to peer, Startups, TC, Venmo | No Comments

 A peer-to-peer payment app that works similarly to Venmo from startup Lydia in France now works with Apple Pay (a feature originally announced in July), making it possible to spend your balance from the app wherever MasterCard and Apple Pay are accepted. It’s a neat use of Apple Pay to make it possible to do mobile payments without requiring that a user have a credit card – and it… Read More

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Neos launches IoT-powered home insurance UK-wide

Posted by | Apps, artificial intelligence, economy, entrepreneurship, Europe, Finance, Gadgets, insurance, Internet, money, Neos, Private Equity, Startup company, Startups, TC, United Kingdom | No Comments

 What do you get if you combine the Internet of Things with the business of home insurance? U.K. startup Neos is hoping the answer is damage and/or theft prevention rather than just after-the-unfortunate-fact payouts. Read More

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The makers of the Solarin secure cellie are building a bitphone

Posted by | Bitcoin, blockchains, computing, cryptocurrencies, decentralization, Gadgets, Mobile, mobile phone, money, TC, technology | No Comments

 Bitcoin-powered cellphones — basically phones that can securely hold and send cryptocurrencies — have long been a fascinating if undeveloped concept in the crypto community. When phones talk to each other using BTC or other currencies — whether it’s to pay bills or send money to friends — you open up an interesting world of commerce. Read More

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Zelle, the U.S. banks’ Venmo rival, will launch its mobile app next week

Posted by | Apps, Banking, Finance, fintech, Mobile, mobile payments, money, money transfer, payments, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle | No Comments

 Zelle, the PayPal rival backed by more than 30 U.S. banks, is preparing to launch its standalone mobile app on Tuesday, September 12th. The move is meant to give the U.S. banking industry a foothold in the person-to-person payments business, where they’re losing ground to services like PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash and, very soon, Apple’s iMessage, powered by Apple Pay. Read More

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UK’s digital-only Starling Bank adds Apple Pay support

Posted by | Apple Pay, Apps, contactless payments, debit card, e-commerce, Europe, Finance, financial services, Mobile, mobile payments, money, privacy, Security, starling bank, TC, Wallet | No Comments

 Digital-only UK “challenger” bank, Starling Bank, has added support for Apple Pay — meaning its customers can now add their Starling debit card to their Apple Wallet and make contactless payments drawing from funds in their Starling account via their Apple devices. Read More

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Albert raises $2.5 million for its finance app that helps you save money

Posted by | albert, Apps, Bank, Banking, Finance, fintech, Fundings & Exits, investing, iOS apps, Mobile, mobile apps, money, savings, Startups, TC | No Comments

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-20-31-am Everyone knows the basics of how to improve their financial health: put money into savings, track your spending, reduce your debt, look for ways to save on your monthly bills, and make smart investments. Where people struggle is translating that knowledge into specific actions you can take today. That’s where an application called Albert steps into help. The startup, which has now closed… Read More

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