With a cash infusion of $5 million, fintech startup Wage plans to pay wages to a bigger workforce.
Ben Prawdzik, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Wage, said the startup will put some of the $5 million in funding toward bulking up its workforce. The company, whose API enables real-time sharing of payroll data used to make credit decisions, currently employs eight full-timers and contractors. Wage envisions adding an undetermined number of workers in areas like engineering, design, user experience and sales, Prawdzik said.
Google’s AI-focused venture fund, Gradient Ventures, led the round. Other investors include 8VC, Pear VC, Bloomberg Beta and CoFound Partners, along with executives from Affirm, Public.com, SoFi and Zillow.
Zachary Bratun-Glennon, a partner at Mountain View, California-based Gradient Ventures, noted in an April 13 news release that many credit decision-makers penalize people with little to no credit history.
“Wage provides accurate and up-to-date payroll data seamlessly and securely — creating a more equitable and inclusive financial ecosystem, and empowering consumers, financial services, employers and others with efficiency and control over the use and access of their data,” Bratun-Glennon said.
Founded in 2018 as Verix, Wage works with a network of payroll providers, HR departments and professional employer organizations. These partners represent more than 30 million employees at companies such as Amazon, Best Buy, Dell, Delta, Hyatt and Starbucks. Through Wage’s data integrations with its partners, consumers can quickly and securely share their data with third parties like lenders, landlords, hiring managers and fintech apps.
Other fintech companies that operate in the income verification space include Argyle, Citadel ID, Pinwheel, Plaid and Truework.
Prawdzik said Wage’s offering is comparable to a credit check, allowing data to be shared without a consumer entering security credentials or uploading documents.
Wage earns revenue from each API request that it’s able to fulfill. Clients of Wage include companies that provide mortgages, personal loans, auto loans and “buy now, pay later” loans. Among them are Acima, BHG and Prove.
Prawdzik described the nearly $100 billion card-issuing industry in the U.S. as a market ripe for growth. These days, credit card issuers rely on applicants to self-report their income, in large part because it’s cost-prohibitive to verify that data. Wage’s data-sharing API gives credit card issuers more reliable data to determine whether to approve or reject an application, he said. In addition, it eliminates a step in the application process that Prawdzik said deters some consumers from finishing applications.
Over time, Wage aims to boost the volume of API requests it completes while maintaining competitive pricing, Prawdzik said.
“There are some large incumbents in this market that have gone with the other approach, having raised their prices every year to the point where they are so expensive that customers will do anything to find an alternative,” he said. “If we come in at a much lower price point and continue to drive lower prices, we’ll open up new markets that aren’t using this information at all today. It makes it very difficult for our competitors to continue operating with the model they have.”