JiPay, a Singapore-based fintech startup creating an inclusive financial services platform for migrant domestic workers, announced that it has secured US$ 1.3 million in Seed funding. This round of funding was led by East Ventures, with participation from SHL Capital as well as strategic angels including the Manila Angel Network and Shivaas Gulati (Co-Founder of Remitly).
JiPay was founded by Dayana Yermolayeva (Co-Founder & CEO) after she had graduated from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in late 2020. She was first exposed to domestic work after moving to Hong Kong for her studies. Coming from Ukraine, where the concept of live-in helpers is virtually non-existent, she was struck by how large yet unstructured this industry was in Asia, given that domestic workers play a key role in society and in the workforce.
For helpers, who crowded the Central area of Hong Kong Island on Sundays, the problems were apparent; foreign domestic workers (FDWs) are underbanked and lack affordable access to basic financial services, such as remittances, savings, and insurance.
Meanwhile, families who employ FDWs struggle to manage their helper’s finances since salary payments often have to be done in cash. Managing day-to-day expenses is tedious and most families still resort to using cash, paper receipts, and notebooks to do manual accounting at home. “The problem is not just the inconvenience caused by having to manage household expenses in this messy way”, says Dayana, “the real issue is the lack of trust between families and their helpers.”
JiPay creates trust inside the home
JiPay creates trust by bringing onto one platform both employers, helpers, and even kids. JiPay’s mobile app helps both sets of users:
Employers use the JiPay app and connected free Mastercard to track household expenses. They top-up funds, view transactions and insights on weekly spending trends through the app. With JiPay, employers can forget about constant trips to the ATM and having to read through their helper’s receipts. They don’t have to worry about money going missing and they even get 1.5% cashback on card purchases at supermarkets and many other stores.
Helpers can use the JiPay Mastercard to shop for their employers. The card is accepted in stores, online, and on public transport. For wet markets which do not accept cards, helpers can PayNow directly from the JiPay app. Helpers can also view the card’s balance and transactions, so they budget more effectively. JiPay’s existing FDW customers report that using JiPay has taken the stress out of handling their employer’s money. They don’t have to keep asking for cash, keep receipts or carry around loose change. With fewer money disputes, helpers and their employers are able to build trust.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding which will accelerate our path to giving financial independence to domestic workers across Southeast Asia. We started our journey with a product catering to families who hire helpers, which has allowed us to learn more about helpers’ financial habits and get the endorsement from their employers for when we do offer personal finance features to FDWs,” said Dayana Yermolayeva, Co-Founder & CEO of JiPay.
“We already have more than a thousand of Singapore’s helpers using JiPay for household expenses, so we have a platform from which we can offer personal finance products directly to them. Our employer customers help to educate FDWs on the benefits of using JiPay for their own finances, and this really helps with initial onboarding and adoption” she added.
JiPay’s exponential growth and future plans
JiPay has been a game-changer in bringing domestic work into the cashless economy. JiPay recently hit $1,000,000 in card spending, and its transaction volume has increased more than 10x in the past 6 months. JiPay will allocate the newly received funding to teambuilding and product development. JiPay’s next key milestone is to launch a personal finance product for helpers; workers will be able to receive salary payments onto their JiPay Personal Account, send money home via JiPay Remit, and use JiPay Save to set money aside for large expenses such as property purchases or university fees for their children.
Commenting on the investment, Devina Halim, Principal at East Ventures said, “We believe JiPay serves as an integrated platform that eliminates financial access problems in the domestic work industry. Domestic work is not just an industry in itself, but a vital employment sector in many Southeast Asian countries. We believe JiPay is strategically positioned to uplift financial inclusion in this segment.”