Wagestream, a London-based startup that offers a flexible pay and finance management app aimed at front-line and hourly workers, said Wednesday it raised $175 million in Series C funding it will use to expand in the U.S. market.
Wagestream’s raise comes as American consumers face the highest inflation rate in more than four decades and as U.S. employers struggle to hire and retain workers, particularly in hourly customer-facing jobs.
The company was founded in 2018 in the United Kingdom by CEO Peter Briffett and CTO Portman Wills. The platform, which is subsidized by employers, is best known for its salary-advance feature. The app also integrates with other payroll systems and gives workers the ability to manage their income—including how often they’re paid—as well as track their savings. They can also access free financial coaching and insurance, credit and other financial products through the app.
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“When we launched Wagestream, many employers viewed financial well-being in the workplace as a long-term aspiration; now they realize it is a national emergency,” Briffett said in a funding announcement. “For example, 93% of companies we recently surveyed in the United Kingdom plan to put a financial well-being program in place, and we’re seeing a similar shift in the U.S. By addressing the financial well-being of their employees, employers become the hero and solve their own HR challenges in the process – from recruitment, to retention, to productivity.”
Wagestream said its app is already used by around 250,000 retail, hospitality and health care workers in the U.S. employed by companies including Burger King, Popeyes, Crate & Barrel and the University of Chicago. Globally, it said, it has 1 million workers and 300 employers using its app.
The startup is part-owned by impact funds including Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Social Tech Trust, Big Society Capital and the Fair By Design Fund. Its latest funding includes $60 million in equity investment led by new investors Smash Capital and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock as well as $115 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank.
The company was incorporated with a social charter it continues to operate under that requires it to only offer financial services positively impacting workers. Its investors also have to agree to that charter, and the company reports on its social impact to an advisory board and shareholders.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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