To date, only two Vietnamese startups have had the honor of being accepted into Y Combinator (YC) — the famous accelerator program that launched Airbnb and Stripe, among others. Nano Technologies, a fintech start-up co-founded by Dzung Dang, is one of them.
Nano’s flagship product, Vui (meaning joy in Vietnamese), was designed as a personal finance tool for low-income, unbanked workers living paycheck to monthly paycheck. In Vietnam, monthly payroll is the default arrangement and is rarely questioned. Yet, it has considerable downsides, such as forcing employees desperate for cash into the hands of loan sharks. If more companies embraced on-demand wages, the problem would be less acute, reasoned Dzung.
He has statistics on his side. In the UK and US, where bosses have been running weekly payroll for decades, ‘payment on demand’ is credited with improved morale, reduced turnover and better financial health of workers. Should Vietnam embrace Vui’s solution, low-income workers will not only have control over their pay, but also get schooled in the basics of personal finance, in-app.
Power over pay
While employers certainly see the benefits of Vui, pain points remain. Some are concerned about additional admin burden and perceived unfairness when select staff are paid in advance. Others don’t want to encourage gambling by making money easily accessible. But study after study shows that workers see advance payments as earned money, not a loan, and they are much more careful with it, as a result.
Solving such pain points will be Dzung’s priority in the coming years. With rising wages and increased competition for top talent, companies are looking for long-term solutions for runaway turnover. Many begin their relationship with Vui by signing up for a trial before deciding if they want to integrate the app into their payroll and split the cost with the employees or cover it in full (by default, the monthly fee of VND 100,000 is covered by the worker).
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When the loan sharks are not circling
The impact on people’s lives since the app was rolled out in 2020 has been huge. Dzung’s team knows this because they talk to the end users directly. They are equally happy to go the extra mile on the B2B side too: if an employer doesn't have a check-in/check-out system, they build it for them. It’s good for the business, says Dzung.