Chitresh Sharma of Refyne on how earned wage access can revolutionise personal finance
Born from a single-minded philosophy of simplifying everything about personal finance,, a startup founded in 2020, is on a mission to help organisations improve the financial well-being of their employees.
In less than nine months since the company was founded, Refyne has partnered with hundreds of businesses across the country, across different industries, and has empowered 300,000+ employees.
In his keynote address at TechSparks 2021, Chitresh Sharma, CEO & Co-founder, Refyne, shared that when Refyne did research to find what the real problem in the market was, it observed that India, a country which is fairly new to the credit system, is at its peak of consumption even as the same is not reflected in the income levels.”
Access to earned wages Vs credit: Why it makes a difference
Chitresh shared, “Gone are the days when people saved 80 percent of their earnings and spent 20 percent. Today, people are spending way too much and it boils down to the lack of understanding of personal finance and budgeting.”
Chitresh explained that the outcome of this development has led to people being compelled to take expensive and exorbitant credit from money lenders, micro finances, and other credit options, and thus paying anywhere between 80 to 200 percent interest on the money that ‘they probably didn’t need in the first place.’
However, the most worrying aspect of the research, according to Refyne, was that the people who availed credit didn’t understand the “fine print”, thereby the consequence and pushing them into the debt trap.
“When we analysed further, we realised eight of the 10 people could have avoided taking credit if they had access to the pay they had already worked for.”
The other key insight the research brought to the fore was that financial stress was one of the biggest contributors to mental stress, which in turn affected their professional life. “Financial stress creeps into the workplace in the form of loss of productivity, higher attrition rates, and absenteeism - affecting both the employers and employees,” he shared. The research showed that 46 percent of urban Indians were stressed about their financial health.
This is where earned wage access becomes revolutionary. He shared that it is an idea that starts from personalisation and aims to understand the individual financial position of people while forming trusted partnerships with their employers.
“People need to be clear that earned wages is not another form of personal credit. Earned wage is a policy change which is implemented by the employer and allows the employees of our partner employers to access their money any time of the month. It allows them in real time to see the income and expense behaviour and accordingly automatically set what should be a good and natural way for them to access their own salary in order to resolve their immediate financial crisis,” explained Chitresh.
The many firsts
In his keynote, the CEO detailed how Refyne's model was solving a deep-rooted problem without taking into account credit scores.
He shared, “We take pride in saying that this is India's first-of-its-kind policy change, which allows employees to access their salary, without having to pay any interest or any processing fee. And the beauty is that this takes care of the dignity of the employees, because everything is done automatically from an app without documentation.”
He shared that Refyne’s 60-second experience is the most celebrated feature of the platform. “We make access to pay very simple and natural in people’s lives. In fact, 99.62 percent of the time we make sure that the transaction is done in under 60 seconds.”
Refyne provides 24x7 access to earned wages, which translates into a financial safety net for employees to meet any sudden financial emergency. “It is a simple product with no fine print whatsoever, zero interest, and zero risk,” he said.
Refyne has taken on a plug and play approach and integrates seamlessly with an organisation’s existing ERP or HRMS software. This leads the way to deploy the solution easily sans any changes to an organisation's current setup.
Chitresh explained that the benefits aren’t one-sided and makes way for employers to participate with their workforce. “It helps organisations understand their employees' requirements better. It helps build trust, enables employee dignity and truly demonstrates the much-needed ‘care’ element. In addition to the intangible benefits, there are clear tangible benefits.
“Since we launched the earned wages access platform in January, there have been organisations where we have been instrumental in reducing the employee churn by 37 percent, helping employers acquire talent 2.6 times faster.”
Concluding his keynote, he shared, “Today, with the tap of a button, we can order a pizza or call for a taxi. But, we still have to wait for 30-45 days to get paid for our work. This is where Refyne is pitching in to make it easy for people to get paid when they need it once they have worked for that amount. This is a fight for financial freedom for all.”
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