I spoke with a friend who attended Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus a few years ago. She explained how difficult it was for her to get her hands on the Turkish Lira, what they popularly call TL [pronounced as Tee Ell], and the difficulty accompanying paying fees and purchasing items online. This experience, she mentioned to me, is not unique to her, but it’s a common occurrence that affects Nigerians in the diaspora.
According to her, it is possible to lose your admission due to a delay in payment reconciliation between your local bank in Nigeria and your school, even if you start the payment process months ahead. This sounded strange until I spoke with Paul a few weeks ago.
Meet the Founder of Pay4Me
Paul Adah is the founder Pay4Me App, an application that makes it easy for international students and immigrants to pay their tuition and fees in minutes, not weeks. They also provide additional services like bank accounts, debit and credit cards, student loans, and instant money transfers to other students working with licensed and trusted partners, including banks, money transmitters, student loan companies, and educational institutions.
“In 2014, about nine years ago, I almost got kicked out of school in the US because my tuition payment from Nigeria was not delivered on time. I would eventually figure that out while working with many other international students”, Paul started as he began his story at an extreme on the spectrum of challenges that affect international students. These challenges will lead him down the path towards founding Pay4Me.
After figuring things out, Paul became an International Student Advisor helping students from about 120 countries come to study abroad at his school then. He assisted students from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya, and many more across Africa and South and Eastern Asia.
The challenge being weathered was similar across the board, and Paul considered why a solution that particularly solved this problem was yet to be created.
For Paul, the goal was simple, “do not allow anyone I can help to suffer from school fee payment-related issues.”
An Analog P2P Payment System
Paul created a community of people at home and in the diaspora on WhatsApp, where whoever needed Naira or any other FX could get it via what seemed like a peer-to-peer transaction.
He said, “I started a WhatsApp group that connected international students in the US and those in Nigeria. If someone in the US wanted to send money home and somebody in Nigeria had Naira, we connected them. The person in the US would help the person in Nigeria take care of the transaction, and the person in Nigeria would pay out the naira.”
This happened for a while over WhatsApp, and this small community grew larger. Paul realized he needed help managing the growing demand over a WhatsApp group. The policies restricting USD card payment in 2020 in Nigeria, amongst other things, led Paul to decide to found Pay4Me App finally.
How does Pay4Me work?
Pay4Me leverages partnerships to function seamlessly. This is a hard road to tow, as Pay4Me has to tie all these partnerships together. But this method has worked so far to ensure they effectively serve their growing customer base.
Pay4Me currently partners with banks, colleges, payment vendors, etc. This growing network of partners is where Bloc comes into the picture, assisting Pay4Me App in making the lives of international students worldwide easier.
Describing Pay4Me briefly, Paul said, “So my job today is to identify the fastest and the most cost-efficient way to help our customers get their payments, where they need them to go. So that means we have to build many partnerships, get many rails technologically and working relationships too, basically.”
How Bloc is empowering Pay4Me to make the students’ lives better
Our role working with Pay4Me has been on the infrastructure side of things. At Bloc, we offer a suite of APIs and no-code tools that enable businesses to offer financial technology services to their customers. Pay4Me has been able to build its solution on our infrastructure.
“Yeah, right now, we are leveraging Bloc for Collections using Bloc’s Collections API. Bloc powers our Naira collections. Once customers have reached the point of payment, they receive a specific account number to which they send the funds. The system then confirms the payment, enabling us to collect payments from our customers, making everything much faster.”
“The future for Pay4Me is to become a dedicated payments platform for students offering them various financial services. For now, we are on Bloc’s waitlist for several newly released and yet-to-be-released features that tie in perfectly into that future”, Paul commented.
“One of the key things is finding a solid partner that can provide us with the resources that we would need, and Bloc seems to be a very solid partner. We would explore Bloc's opportunities as they open up,” he concluded.
The experience of being backed by Bloc.
Pay4Me has been with Bloc since our beta phase working with us through and through as we build alongside them. “In payment, the worst thing you can do when a customer wants to give you money is not to be ready to take that money. This has been the case occasionally with Bloc, and we are aware that these are the exceptions”, Paul said. For the most part, Bloc has been very solid for our use case. Bloc has everything we need. With all the new products and features coming up, Bloc is the best [bet] with the [roadmap] of products and services we hope to release to our customers,” He concluded.
Pay4Me is building a really amazing product that every international student can leverage. As of today, it is one of the only platforms successfully powering tuition payments for international students.
Paul rounded off our conversation as he left a warm remark for the team at Bloc; he said, “I would honestly want to see a Bloc solid enough to be the foundation of financial technology companies like ours and grow with them.”
As a team, Bloc remains focused on ensuring all our partners are confident enough to innovate on their solutions. Whether powering cross-border payment, local business financing, or whatever solution you are building, building with Bloc is a great place to start.