This is part of an ongoing Q&A series with our originator partners.
Tate Hackert is the Co-Founder and President of ZayZoon, one of Percent’s data-driven originators focused on earned wage access. Tate graduated from University of Victoria, Canada, and City University of Hong Kong with an economics degree. We spoke with him from his remote office in British Columbia.
Brian Guerra: Can you explain just what ZayZoon does for those who are not familiar?
Tate: ZayZoon partners and integrates with companies of all sizes to provide their employees with Earned Wage Access, financial education, and personal finance tools. This is important because workers around the world rely on predatory products such as payday loans and overdraft fees to bridge the paycheck-to-paycheck gap created by pre-determined payroll cycles.
ZayZoon’s on-demand access to wages gives employees control over their paycheck, reducing financial stress and preventing the debt spiral caused by predatory products. It’s this reduction in financial stress that we believe leads to a more engaged and more productive workforce.
Your company has a major focus on financial education for the employees of the companies you partner with. Why has that been an important part of ZayZoon?
Our mission is to improve the financial health of employees with the use of responsible financial products, and education is a big part of how this can be achieved. Earned Wage Access solves a massive problem and is an easy value proposition to understand.
People work daily but are paid every two weeks; it just doesn’t make much sense. To achieve true financial health, though, you need a holistic approach that looks at an employee’s short- and long-term needs. For us, it’s important we make a positive impact on our customers financial situation; financial education, tools and earned wage access are a few of the ways we’re helping.
What’s the biggest differentiator between ZayZoon and your competitors?
We really focus on making the solution as easy as possible to use — not just for the employee, but for their employer as well. Businesses already have enough on their plate, and the whole point of ZayZoon is to improve the productivity of a workplace, not diminish it. By creating an intuitive solution for employees that works seamlessly with employers existing systems, we’re able to stay one step ahead of the competition.
What is a misconception investors may have about your industry and asset class?
A common misconception is that our service is a loan to our customers. Our deep integrations into payroll and employers ensures that the funds being provided to our customers are truly their earned wages that they would be entitled to receiving in any case. We’re just expediting that process with instant access to payroll. People get funds when they need it, and conventional debt traps can be a thing of the past.
What is something most people don’t know about your industry?
There are two things that most people are likely to misunderstand. The first is that most people are still blind to the statistics surrounding financial hardship — specifically the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle that millions of Americans find themselves in.
The second is for those that are aware, they believe it only affects the lowest income individuals. The truth is, cash flow issues are present across all income brackets, and as a result, Earned Wage Access is, too.
What makes this space unique from an investor’s point of view?
Short-term cash management and personal financial wellness is a huge opportunity around the world that affects millions of people every day. We’re solving this problem in an elegant, ethical, and empathic way by helping people keep their hard-earned funds, while generating competitive unit economics for our stakeholders. ZayZoon prides ourselves in coupling social benefits alongside shareholder value, and puts ESG at the forefront of our corporate culture.
You’re partnered with large brands at the franchisee level. Are there any interesting success stories or growth stories from working with those groups?
We work with hundreds of franchisees from some of the biggest brands in the world. A big success in 2020 was becoming the one and only qualified vendor for Choice Hotels. We already had dozens of locations on our platform, but becoming a qualified vendor solidified our role in the hospitality space and since allowed us to more than triple the number of Choice Hotel franchisees on our platform.
Another success story is the hundreds of Domino’s franchisees we service. One employee in particular provided a heartfelt story about leaning on ZayZoon as she started over after escaping an abusive relationship. We get reviews and amazing testimonials every day, but every so often you receive feedback that just makes you go “wow.” This was one of those times. [Ed. — You can read more here.]
Can you explain the lifecycle of the capital you raise?
When an investor invests in ZayZoon through [Percent], 100% of that investment is being used to give employees their pay ahead of their regularly scheduled payday.
As an example, an employee paid every 14 days might run into issues midway through their pay cycle. They would open the ZayZoon app, see how much money they have earned but haven’t been paid for, select an amount to pull, and in less than 5 minutes, those funds hit their bank account. On their payday, those funds are automatically paid back off their regular paycheck.
What’s next for ZayZoon?
We have a ton of room to grow. The merit of Earned Wage Access and Financial Wellness in the workplace is only beginning to be realized. ZayZoon is busy in our own backyard, of course, but we’re also excited about our most recent launches in Australia and Colombia, where Earned Wage Access isn’t yet widely offered, but still highly sought after.
What attracted you to Percent?
Simplicity. The value that [Percent] provided was so clear, and the transparency to see other deals on the platform, past funding amounts, and risk rates over time gave us a ton of confidence in the platform. It’s especially attractive because we really don’t see a limit in scalability. [Percent] was perfect for us at an early stage, and will be just as perfect as we continue to grow.
How can investors learn more about ZayZoon?