Can payday loans be made obsolete? With $15M more, Clair wants to find out

Can payday loans be made obsolete? With $15M more, Clair wants to find out

The world seems to move faster every year, and yet, nothing feels slower than the speed by which paychecks get distributed. In the United States, work conducted the day after a pay period will take two weeks just to process, with a check or direct deposit coming another week or two later. For the tens of millions of employees who live paycheck-to-paycheck, that multi-week delay can be the difference of making a rent check – or not.

A variety of startups have approached this problem with different solutions, and one of the newest and most compelling offerings is Clair.

Using its own base of capital, New York City-based Clair offers instant – and most importantly – free earned wage advances to workers by integrating into existing HR technology platforms. It works with full-time employees and also gig workers, and it offers a suite of online and mobile apps for workers to make sense of their finances and ask for an earned wage advance.

The company was founded in late 2019 by CEO Nico Simko, COO Alex Kostecki and CPO Erich Nussbaumer, and today, the company announced that it raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Kareem Zaki of Thrive Capital, who will join the company’s board of directors. Just a few months ago, Clair had announced a $4.5 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures, bringing its total funding to $19.5 million.

“Pay advance” or “earned wage advance” (there is a slight distinction) have been the Silicon Valley euphemism for payday loan, an industry that has been plagued with allegations of fraud, deceit and rapacious greed that have bilked workers out of their hard-earned paychecks through usurious interest rates.

What sets Clair apart is that its offering is free to workers. Since it connects directly into HR systems, the startup takes on significantly less financial risk than traditional payday lenders, who don’t have access to the payroll data that Clair is able to analyze.

For Simko, one of his goals is simply to see the elimination of the traditional industry entirely. Continue reading “Can payday loans be made obsolete? With $15M more, Clair wants to find out”