Earned wage access (EWA) service provider Paywatch has raised RM21.9 million in a seed funding round led by US venture capital firm Third Prime and prominent family offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. SparkLabs, Won & Partners and CTK Investments also participated in the round.
Paywatch is the only EWA service provider in Asia that works with top banks – such as Hong Leong Bank in Malaysia and Hana Bank in South Korea – to provide workers access to their earned wages, in real-time, before pay day. It also aims to serve as a bridge that provides its underbanked users with direct financial access to reputable banks. To date, it has integrated with five established financial institutions across Asia.
The majority of the Southeast Asian workforce is considered underbanked, with over 55% of Malaysians not having the access to financial resources and services – and this percentage is even higher in other markets.
Founded by brothers Richard Kim and Alex Kim, as former employees in the financial industry, they recognised that their own previous employees lacked access to banks and were forced to turn to high-interest cash advances on credit cards or payday lenders to cope with unexpected financial strain.
Paywatch’s unique system reduces the default risk on workers, which enables those workers to bank with top-tier financial institutions and disrupts high interest payday lending practices.
With this seed financing, Paywatch welcomes Third Prime as a new partner. Operating in South Korea, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, the company plans to use the fresh funds to further grow its presence in existing markets, as well as accelerate expansion efforts into new Southeast Asian markets, including Indonesia and the Philippines.