HR Tech Update: Earned Wage Access apps in Southeast Asia

Updated: May 26

HR TECHNOLOGY: Financial wellness programmes are fast becoming part of every HR professional’s agenda for their organisation.

This focus can reap benefits for the employer, including lower attrition rates due to staff having their financial health in better order. With a rise in HR-integrated apps, it is possible to take wealth wellbeing initiatives down a high-tech route.


One impactful yet simple and cost-effective way to relieve staff's financial woes is through Earned Wage Access (EWA).


EWAs enable employees to access their earnings immediately and transfer the amount to their registered bank accounts in seconds. This quick access minimises or stops the practice of payday loans with their high-interest rates and fees. By offering EWAs, HR managers can protect employees from taking on unnecessary debt for their daily expenses.


EWAs are used through API integration with an organisation's payroll and HR management systems linked to a mobile app on each employee's phone. EWAs ensure that all necessary payroll deductions are reflected before making the earned wages available, and all availed amounts are debited as part of the standard payroll process.


In Southeast Asia, the EWA trend is picking up steam in 2022, with recent large-scale funding rounds for the sector’s startups. The region’s HR practitioners and payroll managers can check out Wagely and KoinWorks (from Indonesia), Paywatch (an EWA startup in South Korea and Malaysia expanding in Indonesia and the Philippines), GetPaid (a Singaporean EWA startup), and PayKey (an Israeli fintech startup also available in the Philippines).


Harvard Kenney School of Government fellow Todd Baker researched the impact of EWA on businesses and their employees. His analysis found that EWA decreased attrition by at least 19% and increased productivity, engagement, and morale among over 6,700 individuals across six businesses.


Aside from that, studies also revealed that EWAs lower healthcare costs, because of reduced money-related stress among employees.


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