Founded with charities and designed for frontline workers, Wagestream is a fintech startup on a mission to do good for people, and it has just secured a massive funding round of over €134 million. This round is one of the largest ever raised by a social impact fintech and was led by Smash Capital, with participation from BlackRock and Silicon Valley Bank, as well as follow-on investments from existing shareholders Balderton Capital, Northzone and charity fund Fair By Design.
Founded in 2018 by Peter Briffett (CEO), Portman Wills (CTO) and a group of leading financial charities, Wagestream is driven by a social charter and aims to give people access to fairer financial services. Given that historically frontline workers have been excluded or forced to pay more for financial services than other workers, Wagestream wants to close this gap and contribute to a more just financial world.
In 2020 we added Wagestream to our list of startups tackling poverty, so it’s great to see the team continue to grow and contribute to positive social change. The firm also made it onto our list of UK-based startups to watch in 2021.
Peter Briffett, Wagestream CEO and co-founder, said: “When we launched Wagestream, many employers viewed financial wellbeing in the workplace as a long-term aspiration; now they realise it is a national emergency. For example, 93% of companies we recently surveyed plan to put a financial wellbeing program in place – up from 51% just one year ago. 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 employers in industries such as hospitality, healthcare and retail, who subsidise the service. With financial inclusion in mind, the app provides a variety of financial services to help them build up their financial health over time. People can track their shifts and pay each day, choose their own pay cycle, build up savings and win prizes, set money goals and chat to a personal financial coach, and get fairer deals on financial products – like insurance, utilities and credit for essential services – than they would have access to elsewhere.
With rising concerns over financial health amongst societies across the world – fuelled by rising costs of living, growing uncertainty and rising wealth gaps, Wagestream is tackling a pertinent problem and offers a tangible solution to people. The company is already making a difference to people around the world and this will help them continue to do so – impacting society for good. It’s encouraging to see a company with such principles get such extensive support.
Part-owned by charities including Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Social Tech Trust, Big Society Capital, and the Fair by Design fund, Wagestream is accountable to an Impact Advisory Board and reports on social impact to its shareholders each quarter.
The company 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, with 77% of people reporting feeling less stressed, and 72% reporting an improved quality of life.
This fresh funding comes at a time when the team are preparing to scale up support for underserved, financially stressed workers beyond the UK. It’ll be used to build a broader set of fair financial services within the append expand the team. One million workers now can access Wagestream globally through over 300 employers in the U.S., U.K., Spain and Australia.
Katie Duxbury, Head of Payroll Services at leading healthcare provider Bupa, which rolled out the app to its workforce in 2021, said: “Wagestream has been amazing for our people. By offering a range of charity-backed financial wellbeing tools built around pay, we’ve been able to empower them to build better financial health – all managed through one smart app.”
Brad Twohig, Managing Partner at Smash Capital added: “Financial exclusion and a rising cost of living have created severe financial stress for hard-working people around the world. We’ve invested in Wagestream because its team has reimagined the world of work to solve that problem – making it more inclusive and rewarding for millions of people.”