There has been a tremendous shift to a cashless and digital economy because certain situations can prevent branches of commercial banks to shut down temporarily when circumstances demand it. This week’s profile is on Tayo Oviosu, software engineer, founder, and CEO of a prominent payment solutions provider, Pagatech, the startup that paved the way for others in the remittance space. Though there are now over 200 fintech startups, Paga is still among the top.
Eyitayo David Oviosu was born on 10th September 1977 and acquired both his primary and secondary education in Nigeria. He left for the United States of America in 1994for his tertiary education and earned his first degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1998. Later he would obtain a Master in Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University from 2003 to 2005. Studying in the US, was not an easy feat due to the financial difficulty. He had to work his way through by taking as many jobs as possible to stay afloat. In his 2020 interview with Nairametrics, he admitted to struggling with courses like Semiconductor Chip Design which was one of the toughest courses he couldn’t ace despite loving it. Upon graduation, he opted to take the same Semiconductor Chip Design as a career option in Biomorphic VLSI, a startup with 8 employees, hoping to excel with more practice. Tayo worked hard trying to build a digital imaging chip that was sent to Taiwan for fabrication. After testing it several times in the lab, he was quite sure it was going to work but the chip came back not functional. Due to the massive failure, he was sacked by his boss after barely 3 months on the job. Months later, he got a job as a Software Engineer for another startup in Los Angeles, before he moved to Deloitte Consulting in the CRM and Technology practise as a Senior Consultant. After his MBA, he worked as Manager of Corporate Development with Cisco Systems in San Jose California, where he was responsible for strategy, acquisitions, and private equity investments in a few segments and led Cisco’s investment expansion in Africa with investment opportunities. He led the investment of $130 million acquisition of Reactivity and investment in Guardium (Database Security, Series C, sold to IBM).On his return to Nigeria, He became Vice President at Travant Capital Partners in Lagos and remained there till 2009.
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In 2009, Tayo founded his brainchild Pagatech, a mobile payments solution focused on digitizing cash amidst emerging economies. For Tayo, establishing Pagatech was a means to provide a solution to two challenges of emerging economies which include excessive use of cash, and limited financial access in Nigeria. He wanted to help Nigerians pay traders make purchases, and pay utility bills without having to handle so much money or move around with excess cash. The innovation sounded farfetched at that time because it wasn’t so common, and Nigeria was still very far from toeing the lines of a cashless economy. Paga was launched from his funds and that of his supportive friends. For the first 6 months, Tayo bootstrapped from his funds before setting out to raise funds from investors. His journey towards building Paga was one where he needed to show investors how feasible and profitable the business idea was before letting them in.
Some of the initial investors who took the risk to put in their funds were Goodwell Alitheia Capital, Tayo’s former bosses, both in Nigeria and Los Angeles, and some friends and relatives. Pagatech reached its first 1 million users within 2 years and since then, the number of its users has grown to millions processing billions of dollars in transactions. Pagatech has also partnered with the Central Bank of Nigeria on the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities initiative (SANEF) to grow the reach of agents providing financial services to 500,000 to increase financial inclusion for all Nigerians.
Currently, Paga has 17 million unique users including tech entrepreneurs, businesses, and individuals in Nigeria. Also, International money transfers for pick-up via Paga can be initiated at westernunion.com in 24 countries, or at participating Western Union Agent locations worldwide. These countries include Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Senegal, etc. He has dreams of dual-listing Paga on the NSE (Nigerian Stock Exchange)and NASDAQ( National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) in the nearest future.Featured Image Source: TechCabal
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