~ VCs, institutions, charities team up for largest ever social impact fundraise in fintech ~
~ Round led by Smash Capital, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Silicon Valley Bank ~
~ 250,000 U.S. workers and 1 million global workers now have Wagestream’s financial wellbeing app through employers including Burger King, Pizza Hut and Bupa ~
WASHINGTON D.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 13, 2022–
Wagestream, the financial wellbeing app founded by charities and designed for frontline workers, today announced it has closed a $175 million Series C funding round as it prepares to scale up support for underserved, financially stressed workers across North America and beyond.
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Historically, frontline workers have been excluded or forced to pay more for the financial services they need compared to those making a set salary or higher wages. With a social charter at its core, Wagestream was founded in 2018 by Peter Briffett (CEO), Portman Wills (CTO) and a group of leading financial charities to solve this problem by giving people access to a set of fairer financial services, delivered through their employer, and built around flexible pay (also known as earned wage access). Originally launched in the UK, the Series C capital primarily will be used to scale up Wagestream’s presence in new markets such as the U.S. – the company’s fastest-growing market.
“When we launched Wagestream, many employers viewed financial wellbeing in the workplace as a long-term aspiration; now they realize it is an emergency,” said Peter Briffett, Wagestream CEO and co-founder. “For example, 93% of companies we recently surveyed plan to put a financial wellbeing program in place, and we’re seeing a similar shift in the U.S. By addressing the financial wellbeing of their employees, employers become the hero and solve their own HR challenges in the process – from recruitment, to retention, to productivity.”
Workers access Wagestream through participating employers, who subsidize the service. The app syncs with payroll systems and allows employees to access and manage their income – either directly through the app, or as an integration with workforce management technology partners. Additionally, with financial inclusion in mind, the app provides users with a variety of financial services to help them build up their financial health over time. For example, people can choose how often they’re paid, track their shifts and pay each day, build savings and win prizes, access free financial coaching, and get fairer deals on products – like insurance and utilities – than they would have access to elsewhere.
The funding round is led by new investors Smash Capital – a U.S.-based investment firm focused on later-stage consumer Internet and technology companies. Smash’s prior investments include Epic Games, Reddit, SonderMind, and DuckDuckGo, among others. Smash’s founders previously led investments for The Walt Disney Company and leading venture capital firms. The round also includes new investors BlackRock, joined by follow-on investments from existing shareholders Balderton Capital, Northzone, charity fund Fair By Design, and new financing from Silicon Valley Bank.
“The combination of financial exclusion and a rising cost of living have created severe financial stress for hard-working Americans,” said Brad Twohig, managing partner at Smash Capital. “We’ve invested in Wagestream because its team has reimagined the world of work making it more accessible and rewarding for millions of people.”
More than one million workers in industries such as retail, hospitality and healthcare are currently able to use the app through employers including Burger King, Pizza Hut, Crate & Barrel, Bupa and the UK’s National Health Service. One million workers now can access Wagestream globally through over 300 employers in the U.S., UK, Spain and Australia.
Part-owned by financial charities and impact funds including Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Social Tech Trust, Big Society Capital, and the Fair By Design fund, Wagestream operates under a social charter written into the company’s articles of association. The charter ensures that the company can only offer financial services which improve workers’ financial wellbeing. All of Wagestream’s investors – including participants in the new Series C round – agree to that social charter, meaning it cannot prioritize growth and profit above the wellbeing of end-customers. Wagestream is the only financial wellbeing provider known to adhere to these standards.
As part of its social charter, Wagestream is accountable to an Impact Advisory Board and reports on social impact to its shareholders each quarter. Emma Steele, Partner at Ascension (which manages the Fair By Design fund), explains: “it’s time for fintech businesses to reach and include the 2.7bn global frontline workforce in a fair financial system. As a pre-seed backer of Wagestream, we’ve watched the business quickly evolve from its ‘beachhead’ flexible pay tool proposition to a global fintech scale-up, bringing a broad range of financial wellbeing tools to over one million people and growing at an impressive scale. We are so proud of what the team continues to achieve – they are an undeniable proof that purpose-led vision and commercial scale go hand in hand.”
Wagestream also puts research, data and customer co-creation at the heart of its product roadmap, and publishes a bi-annual Impact Assessment, which tracks the impact of its financial services on end-customers. The app outperforms global benchmarks on financial inclusion set by independent impact measurement firm, 60 Decibels, according to Wagestream research, with 77% of people reporting feeling less stressed, and 72% reporting an improved quality of life.
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Wagestream is the financial wellbeing app founded with charities, designed for frontline workers and built around their pay. Offered through caring employers like Burger King, Crate & Barrel, University of Chicago and Popeye’s, it makes work more inclusive, fair and rewarding for one million people – by giving them access to fair financial services built around flexible pay.
Workers use Wagestream to choose their own pay cycle, manage their budgeting, save for a rainy day, chat to a personal money coach, and get fairer deals on financial products – all in one app, with no change to payroll.
Wagestream is driven by a social charter – every service it provides must measurably improve financial wellbeing. Over 70% of people using Wagestream feel more in control of their money, leading to a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.
Find out more at www.wagestream.com.
Callum McCaig – Director, Strategic Communications
+44 (0)7507 567864
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