Helping Employees Avoid Late Fees, Bounced Checks And Pay Day Lending With Their Own Money

PayActiv gives workers access to the money they have earned without requiring them to wait two weeks for their paycheck, said Safwan Shah, the company’s CEO. It advances the money and then is reimbursed by the employer when checks or direct deposits are issued.

“It delivers access to affordable financial services at scale to a financially stressed community. We have two guard rails that are always available,” Shah explained. “One is a cap on the amount you can access, which can be 40 to 60 percent of what you have already earned. Second, you don’t pay per transaction, you only pay $5 a pay period when you use PayActiv. And we don’t provide just access to your money, you can pay bills, load cards, you can call Uber, pay for Amazon through us. or get cash with no fees from a Walmart ATM.”

PayActiv became a Public Benefit Corporation, a certified B corporation, four years ago, Shah said. Its articles of incorporation describe its missions is to deliver affordable financial services. He’s in good company — Patagonia is another B corporation.

“I am the bank of the unbanked and underserved.”

PayActiv also helps them save money, with an interesting twist — they save in time.

“We allow users, who are hourly workers, to save in units of time. A backpack may be three hours of work. Or they can allocate 5 minutes a day toward savings, and in 10 days they can save $15. It all happens behind the scenes.”

Unlike some other wage access companies, PayActiv does not require users to transfer their accounts and direct deposit to the company or use a proprietary stored value card — they can move advanced wages to any card or account they choose.

PayActiv, which launched in 2014, now has more than 100 participating employers, including Walmart where it works with Even’s Pay Access, and empowers more than one million employees, Shah said.

Employers value it because companies have come to realize that financial stress has a real cost to them in employee distraction and occasional absenteeism.

PayActiv is a benefit that costs employers nothing, although some, around 20%, will pay part or all of the $5 fee when an employee takes early payout of his or her earnings.

That’s because it is good business — PayActiv employers saw a 19% reduction in turnover, Shah said, and the cost of replacing an employee can easily run $2,000 to $3,000. It also improves recruitment.

“We’ve become almost a financial services center for the unbanked,” Shah said. Between Uber, bill pay, and records of hours saved, employees may turn to it several times a day. A third say they use it to pay bills, another third to avoid late fees and a third to avoid payday loans.

About Tom Groenfeldt

I write - mostly about finance and technology, sometimes about art, occasionally about politics and the intersection of politics and economics. My work appears on and and occasionally in The American Banker and Banking Technology in London.
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