Refyne has raised a new round of funding, just seven months after securing its previous funding, as the Bengaluru-based startup scales its platform that helps workers access their earned wages in real-time.
Tiger Global led Refyne’s $82 million Series B financing, the two said on Wednesday. Existing backers QED Investors, partners at DST Global, RTP Global, Jigsaw VC and XYZ Capital also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s all-time raise from a year and a half to $106 million.
Refyne did not disclose how it was valued in the new round, but its co-founder and chief executive Chitresh Sharma told Ploonge in an interview that the valuation has increased 6.5 times since Serie A in June.
Refyne is building what is known in the industry as an earned salary access platform, where a link between reward and work is established. The startup works with employers to allow their employees to access their earned salaries in real-time. An employee of the partner company can log into Refyne and see how much he earned in a week and withdraw a fraction of it whenever he wants, for example.
It is not uncommon for people to run out of money between their paychecks. At that point, they either take out a loan from friends and family, or go to a bank, or, in an alarming number of cases, approach loan sharks. Refyne is serving clients who hire white-collar and blue-collar workers, so for many of them, a bank loan is an unlikely option.
The idea – which has been tested in several markets – appears to be showing signs of market adjustment in India, the world’s second most populous nation. More than 150 companies — including Practo, TeamLease, Tenon, Shadowfax, Rebel Foods, Acko, BlackBuck, Arti Group and Cafe Coffee Day — are working with Refyne today to enable the service for its more than 700,000 employees, Sharma said.
Its customers now operate in a wide range of categories, a factor that, according to Sharma, requires Refyne to employ different strategies to best serve each one. “For the manufacturing sector, we have a field team that goes in for guidance and induction. Seventy percent of our effort goes before deployment. For companies that are geographically distributed, due to the times of COVID, we also do a lot of guidance through Zoom.”
In a statement, Alex Cook, Partner at Tiger Global, said: “We believe that Refyne will be the preferred partner for large employers looking to offer Access to Earned Salaries. We are excited to support Chitresh, Apoorv and the Refyne team as they work to improve the financial well-being of the Indian workforce.”
The platform, which supports 12 languages and is compatible with any human resource management system and enterprise resource planning service, has had a “significant impact on customer retention and helping employers hire faster,” Sharma said, adding that the startup was the first and biggest player in the space. This increased Refyne’s responsibility to make the market aware of EWA and to dispel some misconceptions, he said.
“Some people confuse us with other forms of credit products, like payday lenders. So most of our effort will be to ensure that the category is well known as we continue to expand our growth numbers,” he said.
Sharma said the startup is continually working to improve its service and building data sets to understand how people behave to help better assess and project its credibility. “Current credit scores look at people’s past behavior to determine their future.”
The startup aims to serve 3 million workers by the end of the year and is also hiring in various roles.
“The support and trust that global investors like Tiger Global have shown us is a testament to our mission,” he said.