£50B, or Why Balderton Invested In Wagestream

Fifty billion pounds.

This is how much the UK workforce is lending to their employer by the 25th of each month, just before they get paid at month end*. And they are lending this money to their employer at zero interest.

Many of these employees are struggling to make ends meet towards payday and relying on expensive overdrafts or credit cards to do so. If they could only access the money they have already earned that month they would be able able to avoid these high interest rates and fees.

The principle of Wagestream is simple. You worked today, you should be able to get paid today.

This was how salary worked many years ago. Slowly it migrated to weekly, then fortnightly, then monthly. There are good reasons for this: people have month-end bills and tax to pay. However, a big chunk of spending is everyday. There are also bad reasons: payroll is a pain to organise, salary advances even more of a pain, employers don’t want to have to do it too often, and some companies rely on holding this cash to balance the books.

Wagestream solves this problem in a way that works well for employees and employers. Employees can access up to 40% of the cash they have earned so far that month, for a small convenience fee. They also get to see how much they earn each day. Employers still pay at month end, they see higher uptake of additional shifts and higher retention, and integration is very easy.

What we loved about Wagestream was the simplicity of this proposition and how well it works for all involved. We are a big believer in bringing financial health to the mass market, having already invested in a dozen ‘Fintechs’ including Revolut, Cleo and Nutmeg.

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The Wagestream Team

The question as an investor was whether Wagestream could build real competitive advantage, but the company have more than convinced us on this.

First off they are an exceptional team who are executing fast. Co-founders Portman and Peter complement each other perfectly. Peter has deep enterprise sales experience as Yplan COO and Living Social UK CEO amongst others. Portman has co-founded several companies building successful mobile apps and social games, including selling JTC to GSN Games where he was CIO.

As experienced founders, they were able to move very fast and assemble a top quality team from their network. Wagestream is just over one year old as a company and has already signed up some of the UK’s bigger employers such as Rentokil, Roadchef and David Lloyd.

What Wagestream is doing is not easy. They have to provide consumers with a top-quality mobile experience; handle complex and sensitive financial data; integrate smoothly to companies and partners and fund a balance sheet. We also see a huge potential for Wagestream to expand the financial services they offer to employees over time.

We are delighted Wagestream chose Balderton along with Northzone to lead this round, reflecting our deep experience in Fintech and across UK PLC. We are looking forward to helping Wagestream bring financial health to many more employees over the coming years.

*Calculation:

30M UK workers

Earning average £30K per year, £2500 a month. 75% are paid monthly.

30M x £2500 x 75% x 25/30 = ~£50B.

Written by

Partner at Balderton Capital in London, working with Zego, Wagestream, Cleo, Carwow, Mojiworks, Primer, PlayPlay, Dream. Formerly Google & Bain.

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