EARNED wage access (EWA) service provider Paywatch Philippines is looking to onboard more employees and partner employers on its online platform this year, its top official said.

The company expects to onboard at least 100,000 employees and partner with more employers this year, Paywatch Philippines President Rowell O. Del Fierro said in a briefing on Tuesday.

It has partnered with over 30 employers, including the five Shangri-La Hotels under Shang Properties, Inc., Rustan’s, a franchise owner of Dunkin Donuts, and Wilmar, he said.

Mr. Del Fierro said they will focus on partnering with business process outsourcing companies.

“Their main problem is retention and attrition. The other thing is their employees are very young, so cash flow is very important,” he said.

The company is also looking to partner with companies that have a high number of employees, such as factories and those in the retail sector.

“We’re targeting companies that have over 1,000 employees as a base. That’s our sweet spot. Eventually, we can move down to small businesses,” Mr. Del Fierro said.

They also hope to tap government employees and micro, small, and medium enterprises in the future, he said.

“There are close to 50 million employees [in the Philippines]. Short-term liquidity is normally catered to by credit cards. There are only seven million credit card holders. So, the only other alternative are these digital lending companies with predatory rates. Banks are not cheap either,” Mr. Del Fierro said.

“To our knowledge, there is no significant player offering free EWA in the Philippines. Most of them are EWA-like, but it’s offered by a lending company and they probably offer lending products. We don’t offer loans,” he added.

Meanwhile, Paywatch Philippines also wants to introduce a bills payment feature on its app in the next three to four months, as well as savings and insurance within a year, said Mr. Del Fierro.

The company may partner with a a bank to bring the savings feature to its platform, he said.

Malaysia-based Paywatch Global Pte. Ltd. lets employees withdraw a portion of their wages early for a small fee and with zero interest, giving them access to cash for essential expenses like bills or transportation. These withdrawals do not require approval from an employer’s human resources department.

The company said its bank-backed services help companies increase employee retention and decrease rehiring costs.

Mr. Del Fierro said Paywatch finances the early wage withdrawal and the amount borrowed will be deducted from the employee’s total wage for the end of the cycle, and then the employer will pay Paywatch for the withdrawn amount.

Paywatch President and Co-founder Alex Kim said the expected growth in employee onboarding in the Philippines is faster than Malaysia’s but similar to Indonesia’s.

Aside from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Paywatch also operates in Hong Kong and South Korea, based on its website. —

Paywatch Philippines obtained its license to operate from the Securities and Exchange Commission in August 2023 and has been active for six months. It also has an Operator of Payment System license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. — A.M.C. Sy