Paywatch_funding_news_ Alex Kim [Left] Richard Kim [Right]

Paywatch co-founders Alex Kim (left) Richard Kim (right)

Paywatch, an earned wage access (EWA) service provider operating in South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong, has raised US$5.25 in a seed funding round.

US-based VC firm Third Prime and unnamed family offices in Singapore and Hong Kong led the round. SparkLabs, Won & Partners, and CTK Investments also participated.

The capital injection will enable Paywatch to scale in its existing markets and expand into new Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia.

“On-demand pay has seen meaningful traction in the US as a modern way for individuals to exercise greater control over their financial health,” said Michael Kim, Partner at Third Prime. “We see an enormous opportunity for Paywatch to use this model to democratise access to capital throughout Asia.”

Also read: Don’t break the bank: Enabling financial inclusion and equity through tech

Paywatch was founded in 2018 by Korean brothers Alex Kim and Richard Kim, the former Country Manager of MasterCard Prepaid and former Sr. VP of HSBC in South Korea.

The startup works with employers and banks to provide instant workers access to their earned wages before payday. This helps workers avoid high-interest payday lending practices to cope with unexpected financial strain. In addition, Paywatch also serves as a bridge that provides its underbanked users with direct financial access to banks.

The startup claims to have integrated with five financial institutions across Asia, including Hong Leong Bank in Malaysia and Hana Bank in South Korea.

Bain & Company estimates that around 55 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population is still underbanked and unbanked. 

This percentage is even higher in other markets. Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia are among the top 10 most unbanked nations in the world, according to data compiled by British research platform Merchant Machine in 2021.

Also read: These 8 tech verticals are ripe for explosion in Southeast Asia in 2022

Paywatch joins other regional firms such as Indonesia’s wagelyGajiGesa and Vietnam’s GIMO to double down on improving financial stability for workers through EWA. 

 

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Image Credit: Paywatch

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