Malaysia-based earned-wage access (EWA) service provider Paywatch has raised $30 million in funding from a mix of equity and credit facilities to supercharge its growth.

Paywatch said in a statement on Monday that it received over $14 million in Series A equity investment, led by Third Prime and a consortium of US investors, including Vanderbilt University and University of Illinois Foundation, with participation from new investors Octagon Venture Partners and Wooshin Venture Investment Corp.

Paywatch also secured $16 million in credit facilities from global banks, including Citi and other major banks, to fund its product expansion.

This is the largest funding round closed by an EWA player in Southeast Asia.

To sustain its momentum, a significant portion of Paywatch’s Series A funding will be used to further enhance the company’s embedded finance offerings along with the company’s other innovation efforts, according to the statement.

“Amidst this funding and tech winter, we take immense pride in the confidence shown by these esteemed investors and banks in our vision,” said Alex Kim, President & Co-founder of Paywatch.

“From the outset, we firmly believed that providing EWA at the lowest, nominal fee to users while ensuring access to major financial institutions was the sustainable path,

“Although it was a more challenging route to market, our rapid growth and portfolio of high-caliber enterprise clients validate our approach,” he added.

As an enterprise-focused company founded by brothers Richard and Alex Kim, serving the largest base of employees in Asia, Paywatch has processed over $58 million in salaries through its system to date and increased its disbursements to nearly $8 million per month, which is growing month-over-month by as much as 15 percent.

This makes the firm the largest EWA service in Asia by volume of transactions.

The company expects to reach well over $120 million in salaries disbursed by the end of the year, more than doubling its lifetime volume.

Paywatch is also the most prolific multinational EWA service provider in Asia, rapidly growing to four markets since its establishment in 2020: Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea.

“with the recent influx of funding, we’re poised to expand into new markets and develop even more financially inclusive tools for our users,” Kim added.

Paywatch offers a debt-free EWA solution, also known as on-demand pay, an innovative employee benefit that allows workers to instantly access a part of their accumulated salary in real-time as it is earned, and before the end of their payroll cycle.

The firm’s solution has demonstrably decreased employees’ dependence on loans, alleviated household debt and enhanced financial management.

Simultaneously, its seamless, fully automated system has substantially boosted companies’ employee retention and productivity, resulting in significant cost savings associated with hiring and training.

The firm has partnered with global brands like Park Hyatt, DFI Retail Group (including Guardian), KFC, Pizza Hut (part of QSR Brands), Wilmar International, PayNet, CGV cinemas, Lotus’s, Jaya Grocer (an affiliate of Grab), major BPO centers and manufacturing companies.

“We have seen EWA become a mainstream employee benefit in the United States and Latin America,

“And when we look to Asia, we see Paywatch becoming the leading change agent in the region with enormous momentum,” said Michael Kim, General Partner of Third Prime.

“It is a thrilling time to witness the rapid adoption of earned wage access as it spreads across markets with different regulations and cultures, all working towards the same end goal of optimizing outcomes for the employee and the employer,” he added.

Third Prime is a U.S.-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in leading financial and industrial technology businesses globally.

“We have been advocating for financial inclusion for many years and believe that Paywatch’s EWA technology can push the movement forward in a meaningful way,

“Beyond the technology, we also believe in the company’s dedication and commitment to delivering true impact in Southeast Asia,” said Travis Shore, Chief Investment Officer of the University of Illinois Foundation.

It is noted that Vanderbilt University and University of Illinois Foundation have directly invested in Paywatch.

This decision is considered a milestone in the market as the first time these US-based University endowment funds have invested directly in an Asia-based tech startup.

Malaysia’s Jaya Grocer partners Paywatch to enable real-time access to salaries for its employees