Launched in 2019, Advance, the 24/7 salary-on-demand platform has been adopted by some of the biggest companies in the Philippines to provide their employees with early access to their wages to promote financial wellbeing within their organizations.
In the past twelve months, the Manila-based fintech startup has provided close to USD 3-million to thousands of Filipinos across the country. Earlier last year, Advance was able to obtain institutional lending capital from the nation’s top tier banks, which shows trust in their credit process and service offering.
“Advance aims to simplify finance for millions of hardworking employees who see their paychecks as their biggest assets, and who should be able to derive financial dignity from their work,” said Jaime de los Angeles, co-founder and CEO of Advance.
“That’s why we created an on-demand credit platform where individuals would be able to access their salaries anytime and have the financial flexibility to no longer worry about waiting for payday.”
Advance services companies of any size without requiring them to change their existing processes and can also integrate with HRIS and payroll systems to make the experience even more seamless for their clients. Once the partnership is finalized, Advance is extended into the hands of employees immediately.
Bringing financial flexibility to the workforce
Around 80% of Filipinos live paycheck to paycheck, while an estimated 36 million still borrow cash for their daily needs. Unable to rely on assistance from employers or banks, many opt to take out loans from fast-cash lenders— leaving them vulnerable to unreasonably high rates and predatory collection practices.
“We’ve heard so many horror stories of people with an urgent need for cash who resort to payday lenders due to the lack of quality options. We knew that we could provide a much safer alternative to keep them from succumbing to these endless debt cycles,” said Addi Guevara, Advance’s co-founder and CFO.
Advance combines flexibility with controlled limits to promote responsible debt management. “Filipinos deserve to get access to the salary they’ve worked hard for whenever they need in order to regain a greater sense of control in their everyday lives. We are not a loan—our service acts as a financial bridge,” added de los Angeles.
“More than a stopgap measure, early access to salary allows employees to enjoy a broader range of opportunities, no longer held back by financial stress. We’re able to provide thousands of employees with convenience and peace of mind from day one.”
A sustainable tool for agile employers
Advance has also proven to be an indispensable tool for employers, especially during this period of economic instability.
Partner employers have been able to leverage the salary on-demand platform as a backup source of cash flow through this coronavirus crisis. Employers can now grant financial assistance to their employees without having to tap into company resources. Advance ensures that everyone’s best interests are met even in the event of major business disruptions.
“Because our service is purely digital, instant, and 24/7, we’re able to offer not only an essential credit solution, but a reliable one, which is ideal during these turbulent times. We’ve been able to see how Advance has taken some financial pressure off our partners and hope to offer the same positive experience to even more companies transitioning into the new age of HR,” said de los Angeles.
Advancing to new heights
Advance has raised seed funding from four VCs led by US-based Next Billion Ventures. Wavemaker Partners and fintech-focused funds Dymon Asia Ventures and Accion Venture Lab, Accion’s seed-stage inclusive fintech investment initiative, also participated in the round.
“Access to non-predatory consumer credit is a profound problem across emerging economies,” said Ken Toyoda of Next Billion Ventures. “We’re excited to support the Advance team in their mission to offer a tech-enabled, on-demand solution that we believe will positively impact millions of Filipinos.”
According to de los Angeles, Advance’s seed funding will be used to improve further on technology, bolster operations, and expand business in terms of new products and markets. This would ultimately create greater opportunities for a broader base of underserved Filipinos.
“The funding is a big boost to Advance as it allows us to strengthen our team and accelerate our tech initiatives to not only provide better access to credit, but offer simplified financial services to millions of Filipinos,” said de los Angeles.
“Four independent VCs have placed their faith in our team, our mission, and business model. Beyond the funding, our new partners provide us with invaluable insights and an extended network, which is huge given their experience in fintech and scaling businesses. We’re thrilled to be working with them as we take Advance to another level,” said de los Angeles.
“We envision Advance servicing 1 million employees and 10,000 businesses in the next 5 years,” added Guevara. “We’re excited for the road ahead, and feel that we have the right pieces in place to take on this challenge.”