Meet Tayo Oviosu, the Founder of Paga, Nigeria’s Leading Mobile Payments Company

Tayo oviosu is the Founder and Group CEO of Paga a mobile payments company founded in 2009, the company’s primary focus is to digitize cash in emerging economies. Paga’s first market is Nigeria, with a mission to transform lives by delivering innovative and universal access to financial services.

Paga was started with the aim of enabling universal access to financial services for Nigerians and is easily one of the most successful financial services companies in the country. So much so that it may be quite easy to dismiss the fact that the brain behind the company; Tayo Oviosu is the same person who got fired 3 months into his first job after graduation. Right after graduation, he landed his first job with a small startup of 8 people, they were developing digital imaging chips that could capture images the way the human eyes do.

Eventually he was allowed to design a chip that got sent to Taiwan for fabrication, he had tested it numerous times in the lab and he was certain it was going to work, then the chip came back and it did not work. He was eventually laid off, and after many years, he called his boss and thanked him for firing him because he later realized he was in the wrong job.

Tayo is a graduate of Electrical Engineeering from the University of Southern California and also has a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. He formerly served as Manager Corporate Development at Cisco Systems in San Jose California and was Vice President at Travant Capital Partners in Lagos, Nigeria until 2009, when he started Paga.

In a Medium post, he writes “In 2009, I worked at a private equity firm, and each day our office runner would make the rounds asking people if he could go to the bank for them to add cash. When going out to drinks or dinner with a group, it was prudent to carry wads of cash to cover the bill without any embarrassment. If you were traveling, you had to go to the airport, line up and buy your ticket in cash. Till today, most people traveling internationally from Nigeria pay with cash at a bank branch. In a world that was fast moving towards a digital age, we seemed stuck in the dark ages, reliant on cash for almost all transactions.”

The problem inspired him to start Paga, which has since grown to serve over 12 million users and has a network of more than 20,000 agents. Tayo said he started with the aim of solving the ‘use of cash problem’. Over the years Paga has effectively made it easier for people to have access to financial services, to be able to send and receive money through their feature phones, smartphones and laptops.

In its 10 years of growth, Paga has grown from a team of 4 to a team of over 450 people. It also has over 12 million customers and has processed over 72 million transactions worth $4.6 billion. In addition, the company has raised $34.7 milllion since its inception, attracting investors such as Tim Draper, one of the earliest internet investors, Flourish, a venture of the Omidyar group and the Global Innovation Fund amongst others.

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