By Prince Osuagwu & Emma Elebeke
AS mobile money services set off in Nigeria, one of the licensed mobile money service providers, Paga, has vowed to replicate and even surpass the Kenyan experience with M-Pesa.
Paga has set shops, licensed several agents and are moving into the rural areas where the services would make most desired impact.
Before 2008, analysts lamented that Kenya was performing poorly in financial inclusion. But that was before M-Pesa, the country’s flagship mobile money platform, became appreciated as a popular money transfer technology.
However, in 2009, Kenya announced that inclusion had risen by about six per cent in terms of people holding bank accounts. At the same time millions had been recruited into Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money transfer service.
In just about three years of MPESA, three phone operators launched the service and enrolled over 9.5 million customers and recruited over 27,000 agents.
Most interestingly, an independent policy and research centre, CGAP, that seeks to improve poor people’s access to financial services, carried out a survey and found that incomes of the rural recipients increased by five to 30 per cent since they started using M-Pesa.
By bypassing banking and other financial institutions that charge a premium for transfers, or having to travel long distances to deliver money, the system saves cash that can be directed to other areas of economic activity.
That is the record that may likely play out in Nigeria very soon as the 15 companies, Central Bank of Nigeria licensed to carry out mobile money services are set to flag off one after another.
At the moment, Paga said flagging off services ahead of others was to fulfill its mission of delivering innovative financial and universal access to under served Nigerians.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Paga, Mr. Tayo Oviosu at the opening of services, said that the Paga platform would enable Nigerians to transfer money to anyone via their mobile phones, internet connected device, or by visiting any Paga retail agent across the nation.
According to him, “ with Paga, you no longer need to travel with large sums, or give a bus driver money to deliver to your family in the rural areas, all that is needed is to simply go to any Paga agent to transfer the money or do so by yourself, using your phone or Internet enabled device”.
“You don’t need a SIM swap, you don’t need a special phone, you don’t even need to download an application – all you need is a handset that can send text messages.
If you can send a text message, you can use Paga. The simplicity of Paga and ubiquity we achieve via our agent network will deliver the convenience that people want and deserve because Paga will change lives for the better.”
Also, Paga Co-founder and Director of Sales & Business Development, Mr. Jay Alabraba, explained that Paga services had been packaged to work in partnership with selected banks, micro finance institutions, and all mobile network operators in Nigeria.
“We aim to have at least one Paga agent in every community and on every street corner in Nigeria, and we are building this robust network of agents. Paga enables a significant new line of business for any retailer.”