Bullish investors spot big promise in Southeast Asia’s earned wage access startups


Risk capital investors are increasingly evincing interest in earned wage access (EWA) startups in Southeast Asia that are disrupting the payday lending model.

Take Indonesia, for instance. Even as the sector is at a nascent stage in the country, as many as two deals have been closed in fintech startups riding on the burgeoning EWA wave this year.

While wagely raised $5.6 million in June, GajiGesa secured $2.5 million in seed capital led by Defy.vc and Quest Ventures in February, with participation from GK Plug and Play, Next Billion Ventures, Alto Partners Multi-Family Office, Kanmo Group, besides a slew of angel investors.

Most workers in Southeast Asia are paid salaries at the end of the month, except The Philippines where wages are paid on a fortnightly basis. It’s common for workers to go up to their employers and request for a salary in advance, usually at a zero-interest rate. “However, not everyone gets the approval,” said Vidit Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of Indonesia-based EWA startup GajiGesa.

“We try to educate employees about their financial standing as and when they transact with us,” said GajiGesa’s Agrawal. The firm also works with employers on capping transactions and setting withdrawal limits.


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