The huge influx of venture capital, high attrition rates and talent shortage in India have made employers take notice of employee concerns. Over the past year, companies have offered giant pay packages, employee stock options, unlimited time off, mental health breaks and other lucrative deals.

Among the many changes we noticed last year, access to earned wages (EWA) is one by which employers look after the financial well-being of their employees.

EWA is a financial product through which employees can access part of their salary at any time before their pay. The concept is popular in countries like the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, and Singapore.

Based in BangaloreRefynewhich claims to be the first EWA platform in India, helps companies to integrate EWA into their payroll and HR management system.

Founded in 2020 by Chitresh Sharma and Apoorv Kumar, the startup works on a Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C) model.

The need

“Most companies in India pay their employees at the end of the month. But the reality is that expenses happen every day,” says Chitresh, CEO of Refyne. The majority of people find themselves without savings before their next payday, he adds.

The individual has to live without money for a few days and has no access to cash in case of emergency.

The natural response is to ask family or friends for loans, or contact fintech startups that charge exorbitant interest rates.

“Our fight is against these loan sharks with abusive interest rates,” he says.

Often, these lenders do not disclose the multiple overheads in the form of processing fees, prepayment fees, late payment fees, etc., or they allocate more money than necessary to customers.

This adds an unnecessary burden to the shortage of cash, further alienating the employee from financial well-being and stability.

“Most people can solve their mid-month slump if they have quick access to their salary,” adds Chitresh.

That’s what the startup aims to change – approaching it from an employer’s perspective.

Chitresh’s previous experience starting businesses such as IT solutions company Cloud9 and a UK repayment app Swipii, as well as Apoorv’s technology experience at Goldman Sachs and loan app Shubh, helped them build a team of over 150 employees today. .

The product and the business model

Employees can use Refyne’s platform and app through an integrated solution to access their earned pay any time of the month.

The product works digitally and Refyne does not charge any interest on this early access to salaries. Instead, it charges a fee for each transaction made through the app.

“There is no complex financial structure. These are simple transaction fees,” says Chitresh.

Money used on demand by the employee during the month is automatically deducted from the final salary at the end of the month.

In the wings

On Refyne’s side, the process involves a partnership with employers and non-bank financial companies (NBFCs).

Refyne has partnered with over 200 organizations, who can plug and play its software, integrate it with their enterprise resource planning or human resource management software at zero cost. This helps it to verify the employees of an organization.

The startup spans over a million employees across different industries with companies like Rebel Foods, Practo, Chai Point, Wow! Momos, Cafe Coffee Day, CARS24, Tenon, among others as partners. The startup also offers its services in 12 Indian languages.

Additionally, it has partnered with the NBFC, which transfers the salary to the individual’s salary account. To ensure this is the correct user, Refyne performs a penny drop check, a common way to verify the authenticity of a user’s bank account.

Employees can download the Refyne app, register and complete the onboarding by filling in the details. They can activate their accounts to start collecting earned wages on demand and in real time based on what they select.

The market and financing

Earlier this year, Refyne raised $82m in Series B led by Tiger Global, with significant contribution from existing international investors – QED Investors, DST Global partners, Jigsaw VC, XYZ Capital, RTP Global and a new one. investor, Digital Horizon, participate in the round.

Prior to that, in June 2021, the startup had raised $16 million in Series A.

In less than a year, Refyne claims that its trade user base grew 68x and the platform saw a 165x increase in trades over the period.

While the concept is relatively new in India, with the entry of British neobank Revolut into India, the startup will face tougher competition.

During a previous interaction with Your storyChitresh said the company has applied for an NBFC license and is currently working with several NBFC partners to offer its services.

The company plans to grow its user base to three million over the next twelve months.