Patricia, Nigeria’s alternative payment solutions company, celebrated five years anniversary since its establishment, hinting at the successes achieved over the years. The company, which was founded in August 2017, and started its first transaction on Whatsapp, has now grown its customer base to over 850,000 in just five years.
Notably, Patricia is an alternative payment solutions company that facilitates the easy use of cryptocurrency transactions across over ten countries in the world. According to the company, it boasts over 10,000 daily active users and processes over 30,000 daily transactions.
Nairametrics joined the founder and CEO of the company, Fejiro Hanu Agbodje in an interview session, where he highlighted the journey so far and future plans of the crypto exchange firm.
The Nigerian business environment can be quite interesting with headwinds and turbulence. What are the challenges that you have experienced in your five years of operating in the country?
There are a lot of challenges that we have experienced in the five years of operation in Nigeria, ranging from government policies, inadequate infrastructure, talent loss (everybody wants to japa), and sometimes life just happens to you. Sometimes you face issues around insecurity and extortion, among others. However, it has been an interesting journey.
How have you been able to ride the tide?
Our slogan here at Patricia is to “do the most”. That is all we do. We do our best to make sure that we stay clean at all times, so even if someone comes knocking, there are no skeletons in our cupboard. Patricia is a very strong community of people—Patricians, employees, and stakeholders. Hence, each one of us in the company helps the other one to be stronger and better towards a common goal.
What was the motivation behind switching to a full-blown crypto exchange firm from a gift card exchange company?
At Patricia, we let our customers do the innovation for us sometimes, and what we realized is that more people were coming to us because they wanted to buy cryptocurrency rather than gift cards. For example, you have five people come in a day requesting Giftcards, while over a hundred requests to buy bitcoin on that same day. We just thought, instead of giving them away to other vendors, why not buy them from us instead? And that is how the transition came along.
The birth of Patricia Business and OTC, what is the idea behind it?
Our idea for Patricia Business is to enable businesses to go borderless with their everyday business payments. Patricia Business promises entrepreneurs an advanced way to expand their businesses and grow their international reach.
We built an ecosystem that provides the technology for businesses to accept cryptocurrency payments for their products and services. Our goal is that businesses are able to reach their full potential by ensuring they can receive payments from anyone, anywhere in the world without any limitation.
Our Over the counter (OTC) desk is an exclusive and personalized service we offer to our high-networth traders who trade large volumes of cryptocurrency payments. Our services are 100% secure, exclusive, timely and seamless.
Patricia relocated its operations to Estonia in 2021. What influenced the decision to move abroad?
Infrastructural needs were the main factor that drove the need to relocate, and in this case, it was crypto licensing. We have a very interesting crypto licensing regime going on, and immediately after that happened, we needed to legitimize the business because the apex bank sort of unofficially banned crypto in Nigeria.
As a result, we went to Estonia, Lithuania, and Canada to get crypto licenses. So, we are operating from these three countries and can serve anyone around the world. The beauty of crypto is that, with your smartphone and internet, anybody can tap in.
There are a lot of Japa trends going on in Nigeria. How has Patricia been able to manage this massive talent flight, especially since the company operates in a tech-based sector?
It is a situation of dollars and greener pastures. However, what we have been able to do is to let our people understand our vision and where we are going. We understand that Patricia is not a Google, and probably cannot match a Google when it comes to salaries, but we can offer our staff what a Google might not be able to offer in the next ten years, which is ownership in Patricia today that could be ten times worth what you get in Google.
As a matter of fact, we see higher executives in top tech firms globally leaving their firms to join startups where they can have greater ownership and put their name on something, and that is the promise of Patricia to Patricians. We are a bootstrap company. We haven’t raised funds before, and so it is a blessing and a curse in itself, but as an organization, we are moving to the next level and doing big things.
Following up on the firm’s being a bootstrap company, how have you been able to fund the business?
We started in 2017 when there was literally nobody operating in the space, so we had a first-mover advantage, and we were somewhat making money from day one. What I did for the first few years was, whatever profit we made, we put back into crypto. So, we started when bitcoin was $10k, $11k, and up to when it got as high as $40k. Crypto did a lot of the work for us where we would have needed investor money to grow. That is how we have been able to afford to fund our operations and sponsorships and still remain bootstrapped.
What is the plan going forward? Any plans to raise funds?
Of course, we plan to raise money, a lot of money. We want to be bigger and be a full-out exchange where you can do everything, buy, sell, swap, margin, leverage, trade… you name it. We are launching Patricia Business, where you can accept payments in crypto from anywhere in the world. Where you can have crypto invoicing, and accept payments from your customers in crypto. We are also working on some novel ideas, which you will have to wait and see.
Patricia is an alternative payment solutions company that facilitates the easy use of cryptocurrencies for everyday transactions. The company was founded on August 16th, 2017, with its first transaction done on Whatsapp. Patricia launched her first website in 2018 and launched its first mobile application in 2020