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Monday, June 24, 2024

Paywatch Secures US$30M in Funding - the Largest for an Earned Wage Access Solution in Southeast Asia

 Paywatch Secures US$30M in Funding - the Largest for an Earned Wage Access Solution in Southeast Asia

Asia’s leading earned-wage access (EWA) service provider, Paywatch, has raised US$ 30 million (PHP 1.76 billion) in funding from a mix of equity and credit facilities to supercharge its growth. Paywatch received over US$14 million (PHP 821 million) in Series A equity investment, led by Third Prime and a consortium of US investors, including Vanderbilt University and University of Illinois Foundation, with participation from new investors Octagon Venture Partners and Wooshin Venture Investment Corp. Paywatch also secured US$ 16 million  (PHP 939 million) in credit facilities from global banks, including Citi and other major banks, to fund its product expansion. This is the largest funding round closed by an EWA player in Southeast Asia. 

  “Amidst this funding and tech winter, we take immense pride in the confidence shown by these esteemed investors and banks in our vision. From the outset, we firmly believed that providing Earned Wage Access at the lowest, nominal fee to users while ensuring access to major financial institutions was the sustainable path. Although it was a more challenging route to market, our rapid growth and portfolio of high-caliber enterprise clients validate our approach,” said Alex Kim, President & Co-founder of Paywatch.  

Alex Kim, President and Co Founder of Paywatch

An ESG Employee Benefit Beloved by Global Brands & Enterprises 


Paywatch offers a debt-free EWA solution, also known as on-demand pay, an innovative employee benefit that allows workers to instantly access a part of their accumulated salary in real-time as it is earned, and before the end of their payroll cycle. Paywatch’s solution has demonstrably decreased employees’ dependence on loans, alleviated household debt and enhanced financial management. Simultaneously, Paywatch’s seamless, fully automated system has substantially boosted companies’ employee retention and productivity, resulting in significant cost savings associated with hiring and training.  


Notable global brands like Park Hyatt, DFI Retail Group (including Guardian), KFC, Pizza Hut (part of QSR Brands), Dunkin’, Wilmar International, PayNet, CGV cinemas, Lotus’s, Jaya Grocer (an affiliate of Grab), major BPO centers, and manufacturing companies have all partnered with Paywatch.   


Most Multinational EWA Service in Asia, Biggest Volume with US$58M Processed 


As an enterprise-focused company founded by brothers Richard and Alex Kim, serving the largest base of employees in Asia, the company has processed over US$58 million (PHP 3.40 billion) in salaries through its system to date and increased its disbursements to nearly US$ 8M (PHP 469 million) per month, which is growing month-over-month by as much as 15%.  This makes Paywatch the largest EWA service in Asia by volume of transactions. The company expects to reach well over US$ 120 million (PHP PHP 7.04 billion ) in salaries disbursed by the end of the year, more than doubling its lifetime volume. 


Paywatch is considered the most prolific multinational EWA service provider in Asia, rapidly growing to four markets since its establishment in 2020: Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea. The company is committed to this strategy, and “with the recent influx of funding, we’re poised to expand into new markets and develop even more financially inclusive tools for our users,” Kim added.    


“We have seen EWA become a mainstream employee benefit in the US and Latin America. And when we look to Asia, we see Paywatch becoming the leading change agent in the region with enormous momentum. It is a thrilling time to witness the rapid adoption of earned wage access as it spreads across markets with different regulations and cultures, all working towards the same end goal of optimizing outcomes for the employee and the employer,” shared Michael Kim, General Partner of Third Prime. Third Prime is Paywatch’s leading investor for the latest funding round. The U.S.-based early-stage venture capital firm invests in leading financial and industrial technology businesses globally.  

Michael Kim, General Partner of Third Prime

First Time for US University Endowments 


On top of its series of successes in different markets, Paywatch also earned a landmark victory by being the first Asia-based tech startup to be invested directly by US-based university endowment funds. One with the company’s mission, Vanderbilt University and University of Illinois Foundation directly invested in Paywatch.  


“We have been advocating for financial inclusion for many years and believe that Paywatch’s earned wage access technology can push the movement forward in a meaningful way. Beyond the technology, we also believe in the company’s dedication and commitment to delivering true impact in Southeast Asia”, shares Travis Shore, Chief Investment Officer of the University of Illinois Foundation.  

Travis Shore, Chief Investment Officer of the University of Illinois Foundation.


Paywatch entered the Philippine market in 2023 and recorded an overwhelming reception with 150% response to roadshows. In the market, Paywatch is the chosen EWA partner of leading real estate developers, luxury hotels, BPOs, manufacturing and retail brands. The rapid adoption of EWA in the country offers Filipino workers increased flexibility in managing their finances and reduces their vulnerability to debt traps.  


“The Philippines represents a pivotal market for Paywatch.  The positive reception to Earned Wage Access (EWA) in the country is encouraging," said Rowell Del Fierro, President of Paywatch Philippines. “The Series A funding underscores our commitment to Filipino workers. This achievement propels our broader impact, enabling us to reach more enterprises who share our vision of financial inclusivity and enhancing the country’s economic resilience.” 

Rowell Del Fierro, President of Paywatch Philippines


To sustain its momentum, a significant portion of Paywatch’s Series A funding will be used to further enhance the company’s embedded finance offerings along with the company’s other innovation efforts. For more information about Paywatch, visit  About Paywatch 

Founded by brothers Richard and Alex Kim, Paywatch is Asia's leading Earned Wage Access (EWA) service provider, committed to fostering holistic financial wellness for employees. By partnering with leading enterprises and top banks across Asia, we enable employees to secure brighter financial futures through safe and flexible financial access. Our mission is to empower people to live better lives. Currently, Paywatch operates in Malaysia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia, with support from Citi, UOB, Hana Bank, and Hong Leong Bank. 



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