Nigeria’s Paga expands into Ethiopia through acquisition of longtime partner, Apposit

NIGERIA – Nigerian digital payments startup Paga has acquired Apposit, a software development company based in Ethiopia, for an undisclosed amount.

The Lagos based startup will also launch its payment products in Mexico this year and in Ethiopia imminently, CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch

The moves come a little over a year after Paga raised a US$10 million Series B round and Oviosu announced the company’s intent to expand globally, while speaking at Disrupt San Francisco.

Paga will leverage Apposit — which is U.S. incorporated but operates in Addis Ababa — to support that expansion into East Africa and Latin America.

Behind the acquisition is a story threaded with serendipity, return, and collaboration.

Both Paga and Apposit were founded by repatriate entrepreneurs.

Oviosu did his MBA at Stanford University  and worked at Cisco Systems before returning to Nigeria.

Apposit CEO Adam Abate moved back to Ethiopia 17 years ago for an assignment in the country’s Ministry of Finance, after studying at Brown University and working in fintech in New York.

A year later, Oviosu met Chijioke (Apposit’s technical engineer) while visiting Ethiopia and the two started a conversation that eventually led to a Paga partnership with Apposit in 2010.

Apposit dedicated an engineering team to build Paga’s payment platform, Eric Chijioke became Paga’s CTO (while maintaining his Apposit role) and Apposit backed Paga.

A decade later, the two companies have come pretty far. Apposit has grown its business into a team of 63 engineers and technicians and has racked up a list of client partnerships.

The company helped digitize the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange and has entered into contracts on IT and software solutions with banks non-profits and brick and mortar companies while also supporting Paga’s payment product development

Paga ,on the other hand, has over the 10 year period created a multi-channel network to transfer money, pay-bills, and buy things digitally.

The company has 14 million customers in Nigeria who can transfer funds from one of Paga’s 24,411 agents or through the startup’s mobile apps.

With the acquisition, Paga absorbs Apposit’s tech capabilities and team of 63 engineers. 

The company will direct its boosted capabilities and total workforce of 530 to support expansion.

Adam Abate is now CEO of Paga Ethiopia, where Paga plans to go live as soon as it gains a local banking license.

Paga aims to shift the financial needle in the country that is yet to fully embrace digital finance with less than 1% of the population using mobile-money.

“The goal is straight-forward. We want Ethiopians to use the Paga wallet as their payment account. So it’s about digitizing cash transactions and driving financial services,” said Oviosu.

With the Apposit acquisition and country expansion, Paga CEO Tayo Oviosu also looks to grow Paga’s model in Africa and beyond, as an emerging markets fintech solution.

“There are several very large countries around the world in Africa, Latin America, Asia where these [financial inclusion] problems still exist. So our strategy is not an African strategy…We want to go where these problems exist in a large way and build a global payments business,” Oviosu said.

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