Before Starting OrbisPay, I worked on Wall Street, where we built high-frequency, low-latency trading systems and provided brokerage services to Hedge Funds and to institutional investors. We deployed technology to squeeze microseconds from trade executions for the few who can use it to make more money.
The experience working on wall street left me with a few questions.
Can we use our know-how and technology for the greater good? Or is faster and better technology an exclusive domain of the rich and powerful?
Can we build amazing financial products and services to help improve the financial well-being of the largest segment of Americans?
The answer was, of course…We can do this. I just did not know where to start.
A couple of years ago, I was attending a conference at the Boston Federal Reserve bank where they talked about financial inclusion. The statistics that struck me the most were that the United States is the richest country in the world with a GDP of $20 Trillion, yet over 50 million working Americans did not have $400 in savings to pay for emergencies.
So, when they need money, most of them end up borrowing money at a very high interest from payday lenders, which puts them squarely in the middle of a vicious and hard-to-break debt payment cycle or also known as “payday loans”.
Here is a real-life example:
I know Bella. She works at the grocery store near me. She has limited access to credit. When she needed to borrow $200 for a car repair, the only way she could get the money she needed was through a payday loan company. They were happy to ‘help’ her. In exchange for a $200 loan, they would charge her $20 interest plus a $20 processing fee for a 15-day loan. She was already out of $40 for the $200 she needed to borrow. This amounts to an APR (Annual percentage rate) of 485% for a 15-day loan! She had no choice, used the payday loan, and was stuck with the interest rate she or anyone in her situation could not afford. This is not a crime. They can legally charge this rate.
Is this fair? What is the difference between Bella and me? I can get an inexpensive loan anytime I want or need it.
With OrbisPay, Bella can access $200 and pays $3 in fees, which is a very big improvement over payday loan fees. The money she can save from paying exorbitant fees to payday lenders will help build her financial resiliency.
This is how we do it:
- We work with her employer and their payroll and time management systems. We can calculate in real-time how many hours she has worked. With this information, we can calculate how much money she has earned in wages and provide access to wages she has earned but has yet to get paid. When she needs to access her earned wages, she can simply use the OrbisPay app to access her earned wages.
- The money we advance is secured by the work she has already done and the wages she has already earned – all of which are owed to Bella. We get our money back with a small fee in the next pay period. It is a simple, safe, and inexpensive way to access cash whenever she needs it.
On-Demand Pay, or Earned Wage Access (EWA), is one of the examples of what we can do as a company. Our goal is to build financial products and services which are affordable and can provide immediate and long-term benefits to working Americans. Financial inclusion and access to credit is the key to financial well-being. This is the starting point for fulfilling the American dream.
Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions for improving and or adding new services.