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Payd, M’sian fintech startup for on-demand earned wage access

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While monthly salaries might work for some people, not everyone has the same lifestyle or financial commitments to plan their life around a monthly paycheck.

That struggle has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with wage cuts, shift cuts and late paychecks. However, not all employers had the ability to advance workers’ salaries, even if they wanted to.

This is where Earned Wage Access (EWA) solutions come in.

EWA essentially gives teams access to portions of their salaries that they’ve already earned. Think of it like early, instant or on-demand payment.

One company offering such solutions in Malaysia is Paidfounded by Justin Kong and Darvesh Darwani with a common goal of improving the financial well-being of low-income earners.

hands out

With a decade of experience in the fintech industry, Justin’s interest in improving financial well-being was first sparked by his own personal experience of trying to manage his funds as a recent graduate.

But the idea really took shape a few years later when he noticed that workers were charging 50 to 100 RM a few days before payday.

The Payd team / Photo credit: Payd

A globetrotter who has worked in London and Singapore, Justin met then business partner Darvesh in Singapore around November 2020.

Darvesh’s background is in sales, having spent 10 years across Asia and Europe building successful sales teams before returning to school for his MBA.

The two quickly realized they wanted to solve similar problems, so they teamed up and launched Payd in 2021.

empower employees

When thinking about improving their financial well-being, some may start with education and improving financial literacy.

However, Payd has a different take on it.

“It’s unfair to ask people to improve their financial literacy and well-being without addressing the larger issue of financial stress,” the duo said. “As we begin to address this issue, we are now seeing that employees are more open to learning how they can improve their financial situation.”

According to Payd, 65% of employees admit to feeling stressed about their finances each month.

The team also claimed that monthly salaries were only popularized 50 years ago and therefore most people were not taught to plan or live their lives around a monthly paycheck.

“However, we still insist on paying them in a way that does not suit the needs of the individual,” they stressed.

With this in mind, Payd’s solution focuses on improving employee well-being by first attempting to reduce financial stress.

“Through EWA, employees who prefer to manage their finances every two weeks or even weekly now have the ability to make their own financial decisions,” the team said.

Of course, financial literacy is also part of the equation for improving financial well-being. Therefore, Payd aims to introduce a financial literacy tool in its app alongside RinggitPlus.

“As part of our systematic approach, we will look to add more tools like budgeting and savings to the platform later in 2023,” they explained.

Catering for low-income earners

Some may think that younger employees are the ones seeking EWA because they want to “cash out” their earnings early.

While young users are certainly part of Payd’s target market, they shared that the trends they’ve seen show that families and children are just as likely to use EWA.

An onboarding session / Photo credit: Payd

In addition, low-income earners are also more likely to really need EWA. Payd’s data shows that it’s usually people within the B40 and M40 in the service and manufacturing industries who need it most.

However, there could be concerns that EWA encourages or encourages impulsive spending. But Payd disagrees, sharing that the data they’ve collected shows the average person is only withdrawing about 15% to 18% of their salary monthly, instead of the 50% they would be able to.

“And for the most part, they’re doing this for things like gas and essential groceries,” they added. “This shows that there is much more awareness than traditional wisdom would have us believe.”

differentiate yourself

In addition to Payd, there are other companies that offer EWA in Malaysia. This contains paywatch and HariGaji.

But the founders believe there are three key differentiators of Payd compared to its peers in Malaysia.

“We are the only EWA platform in Malaysia that is fully Sharia compliant,” they claimed. “This is a key reason we have been able to work with local government agencies to make EWA available to their employees.”

However, it is currently also Sharia compliant and certified by MDEC’s Islamic Digital Economy, according to HariGaji’s website.

That being said, Payd believes it’s fairly priced and currently available for free to employers, which the team believes is important to ease their step in launching a new product like EWA.

“We’re also very conscious about our pricing to employees,” they shared. “Our fee was set to ensure everyone can afford us, but also to ensure employees understand they have the choice to withdraw money today or on payday.”

According to the team, Payd charges a flat fee of a few ringgit per transaction. This payout fee is Payd’s main source of income as it doesn’t charge employers or require monthly commitments from our users.

Fund financing

Today, Payd works with over 30 companies, giving around 60,000 employees on-demand access to their earned wages.

The partners and investors Payd works with listed on its website include well-known names such as Starbucks, Tropicana Corporation Berhad, Endeavor and more.

Payd team members at an onboarding session / Photo credit: Payd

In April, Payd raised RM7.5 million in its seed funding round. According to the co-founders, the funds have been used to help Payd accelerate its growth to meet increasing demand from employers to adopt EWA.

“We used the money to build our core functions, including engineering, sales, product, marketing and customer success, and grew the team from five people to almost 20,” they shared.

“As we continue to scale, we will be looking for more talented individuals to help us improve financial well-being across the country.”

While the company’s short-term goal is to continue to grow as a provider of EWA in Malaysia, Payd’s overall vision is to become an inclusive mobile tool for the financial well-being of low-income earners in Malaysia.

“Our goal is to enable these individuals to improve their financial literacy and gain access to necessary products such as budgeting, saving, insurance and investing,” they said.

  • Learn more about Payd here.
  • Read other articles we have written about Malaysian startups here.

Credit for selected images: Payd

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Molly’s Keto Kitchen, Low-carb bread, snacks & sauces in Malaysia

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[Parts of this story were taken from a video interview we did with the founder in August 2021.]

Ketogenic (or keto for short) has been a popular lifestyle option for health freaks or individuals looking to lose some weight for a while now.

As a low-carb, high-fat diet, keto diets require quite a bit of adjustment as the practitioner would not be able to eat foods like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, and more.

Because of these limitations, many brands have emerged to cater to people on the keto diet so that they can easily practice the lifestyle.

This includes the brand of a Malaysian mother-son duo Molly’s Keto Kitchen. Founded in July 2020 by mother Molly and son Andy, the brand started as a small home business that has since grown into a full-fledged operation.

Triggered by a financial crisis

Andy and his family took a hit when the pandemic started. He received pay cuts while his wife Yen was fired. Income started to be a problem.

The couple were also expecting a baby boy, whom they would eventually welcome into the world in October 2020.

After practicing the keto lifestyle for a few years, Andy came across a Facebook group called LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) Keto Market where he bought various keto items.

Photo credit: Molly’s Keto Kitchen

After being on Facebook for a while, Andy began to familiarize himself with the types of people and products on the platform.

Coupled with their financial woes and the uncertainty of the job market, Andy realized that keto-friendly groceries is an industry he and his family could jump into, too.

Finally, Andy’s mom, Molly, has always been supportive of his diet and personally cooked keto-friendly recipes. According to Andy, she has always taken care of her family’s health.

“Why don’t we start selling [keto-friendly food] ourselves?” he wondered. And so they did.

The key to keto foods

According to Andy, Molly’s Keto Kitchen is about helping people eat the things they love without guilt.

“The idea is to get [the food] as close as possible to what you would normally eat [in terms of] Non-keto products,” Andy explained.

A popular product from Molly’s Keto Kitchen, along with the bread, is the Caramel Pandan Kaya, according to Yen. The idea for Kaya came from customers who loved the local jam but couldn’t find a healthy, low-sugar alternative.

Photo credit: Molly’s Keto Kitchen

The brand also sells various sauces like Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, Sambal Penyet Keto, Mee Goreng Mixed Sauce, Soy Shiitake Mushroom Mixed Sauce, Dark Soy Sauce and more.

As a keto lifestyle brand, finding a way to keep carb counts low is one of Molly’s Keto Kitchen’s priorities. They do this by using alternative ingredients that are not that easy to come by. Also, they can be quite expensive.

As the brand name suggests, Molly’s Keto Kitchen products are all prepared by mom Molly, with Andy’s role throughout the research process.

This process required a lot of trial and error through experimentation on Molly’s part. In fact, her first bread recipe resulted in loaves that were “rock hard” and didn’t taste good at all.

Photo credit: Molly’s Keto Kitchen

“I think our kitchen became a kind of science lab during that time,” Andy recalls.

But luckily, he’s the kind of person who likes to keep trying until he gets it right. So he researched further and made adjustments to the recipe.

As of 2021, Molly shared that they bake more than 30 loaves of bread each day while making bottled products on the weekends.

Beyond Bread

“I think the deal has been able to help us make up some of the lack of revenue that we’re generating,” revealed Andy. “But I wouldn’t say it completely covered us.”

In 2021, Andy told the Vulcan Post that they intended to continue with Molly’s Keto Kitchen as he believes there are many customers who rely on the brand and its products.

Photo credit: Molly’s Keto Kitchen

The family managed this by bringing in a partner who could oversee production, set up a central kitchen and ensure the e-commerce system was in place.

This will sell Molly’s Keto Kitchen products on a platform called bread and bettera website launched to offer customers the best experience when purchasing the brand’s products.

Looking at the platform today, it also sells other products, namely keto, or health-conscious ingredients like erythritol, stevia, almond flour, and lupine flour.

Beyond breads, spreads and sauces, the family seems to be taking Molly’s Keto Kitchen to the next level and establishing itself as the brand for all things keto.

-//-

This interview was conducted as part of our previous Vulcan Post video series Pandemic-Born.

You can watch the startup’s video interview here:

  • Find out more about Molly’s keto cuisine here.
  • Read other articles we have written about Malaysian startups here.

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Head to Edmonds for the classic dim sum cart experience and some tasty BBQ

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It is official. I can’t get dim sum out of my head. I blame my colleagues. First there was Bethany Jean Clement’s interview with Canlis chef Aisha Ibrahim praised the dumplings at Joyale’s. Then I found perfect rice rolls at Kirkland’s dim sum for breakfast Discover the Early Bird Cafe. To top it all off, Tan Vinh proclaimed Renton’s Triumph Valley best dim sum anywhere outside of Richmond, BC

But I firmly believe that there are never enough dumplings in life. With that in mind, I have one more dim sum spot to tempt you – T&T Seafood in Edmonds, where clattering metal carts full of steamers roll through the expansive dining room and somber aquariums filled with giant lobsters fill the back wall.

The friend I met on a Monday afternoon before lunch at the Strip Mall around 99 Ranch Market said she had always wanted to go to T&T, but on the weekends it was impossible to get a table. While it was busy on a Monday we were seated right away so it seems like weekdays are the way to go if you can swing it.

About 30 seconds after we were seated, a pot of hot tea was brought to our table (each table has a QR code attached for off-menu orders). Before the tea was fully steeped, a cart stopped and offered rice buns, pancakes, and all fried foods. There’s also a second cart with steamed buns, dumplings and all the offal – chicken feet, honeycomb and flat tripe and sinew.

The carts spun around constantly, and while a few items were always on offer (pork shu mai, steamed shrimp), there were others that unfortunately only showed up after I was full (the nest-like fried shrimp balls).

The offerings are dim sum’s biggest hits, many of which are well done. Of the things we were able to snatch from the cart, the standouts were the steamed jumbo shrimp, crispy fried shrimp and chive dumplings, pork shu mai, and fried shrimp paste tofu. I also enjoyed the baked barbecue pork buns that were topped with a hint of gooey icing — but the pork to bun ratio was a bit off as there just wasn’t enough pork.

However, the absolute best thing we tried was the half barbecue duck ($18.80) ordered off the regular menu. The polished skin crackles lightly under the thin, flavorful sauce, giving way to that luscious layer of duck fat and impossibly juicy meat. There’s a small bowl of viscous, ginger-heavy dipping sauce that adds a layer of flavor but isn’t necessary at all. The half-size portion has a fair amount of neck meat, which is a hands-on experience for anyone who feels like it, but there are plenty of boneless platters to take away, too.

I’ll definitely be returning for that duck – but also to get my hands on all the smacking shrimp dim sum – and to further explore the extensive menu with a variety of pasta and rice dishes and soups.

T&T Seafood 10am-8:30pm Monday-Thursday, 10am-9:30pm Friday-Sunday, Dim Sum served daily from 10am-3pm; 22511 Highway 99 #103, Edmonds; 425-776-3832; tandtseafoodrestaurant.comcastbiz.net

Elsewhere at the crossroads of Edmonds and grilled meats, there’s a slip of a square in the Perrinville neighborhood Fat pork BBQ. There is a small barrel smoker just outside and as soon as you walk in the room has a window for ordering and a few tables for eating.

I ordered a rack of ribs ($24.95), a quarter chicken ($6.75), and a small pulled pork menu ($12.50) that included a bun, baked beans, and coleslaw.

Each of the cuts of meat has been coated in varying degrees in a rich, sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. It’s drizzled over the tender pulled pork, peeled onto the chargrilled chicken thighs and thighs and — perhaps most importantly — smudged all over the ribeye, which is so tender the meat falls off the bone with ease.

I’ve thought about these ribs at least three times since I ate them – and that includes Thanksgiving weekend, which I basically spent four days feasting on! They were incredibly tender, and the barbecue sauce softened the little black bits clinging to the edges. They were definitely cheeky, but in a way the chicken was lovely too – and both were still lovely the next day.

The menu has options to have meat as part of a meal – like the pulled pork I ordered – or on its own. The beans that came with the meal had this sweet/spicy/vinegar thing. The coleslaw was forgetful, but I think the ideal way to eat it is on a mushy bun along with the pork and an extra dash of that barbecue sauce (there’s a sandwich on the menu).

Fat pork BBQ 11:00-7:30 Sunday-Thursday, 11:00-20:00 Friday-Saturday; 7533 Olympic View Drive, Edmonds; 425-361-7640; eatfatpigbbq.com

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Angela Harnett reveals which chefs she is a big fan of

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Angela Hartnett reveals how she will be cooking her Christmas dinner this year (Image: Delivered)

TV chef Angela Hartnett on howling at Gordan Ramsay and her Italian version of Christmas dinner.

As both you and your husband are chefs, do you cook cordon bleu every night?

We don’t have three course meals every night! That’s the day job. Some nights we might just have a little cheese on toast and other nights we might just have a bowl of soup.

Most of the time we work in restaurants anyway, but whoever gets home first usually cooks.

Who are your personal favorite chefs?

I love Delia Smith, Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein and Keith Floyd, but to be honest I don’t really watch a lot of TV shows about cooking. It’s a bit like a bus driver’s vacation, isn’t it? I much prefer going out or watching a good comedy. I love Ted Lasso.

Where did you do your training as a chef?

Nigella Lawson is one of Angela’s favorite chefs (Image: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Not me. I never went to cooking school, I studied history. After that I learned in jobs, worked in kitchens. I worked for Gordon Ramsay for a long time.

What’s it like to be on the wrong side of one of his famous rollocks?

Nobody wants to be yelled at, but you can understand why he does it. He has a job to do and he wants to do it well. I have worked with Gordon for 17 years. You wouldn’t work with someone for so long if they were a horrible person. He simply demands excellence!

Tell us about your podcast dish…

Nadiya Hussain is one of Angela’s podcast guests on this series (Image: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

It’s like inviting people over for dinner and a nice chat. I mainly cook and Nick Grimshaw mainly chats and serves the drinks. Season 2 guests included Vernon Kay, Nadiya Hussain and Stanley Tucci. I made a Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle for Martin Kemp, that was nice. I describe what I cook for the audience and we send a link to the recipes.

Do you have cooking traditions in your family?

She co-hosts the podcast with Nick Grimshaw (Image: Jed Cullen/Getty Images)

Mom’s family is Italian… at Christmas we make a Sicilian pasta dish called anellini. For Easter we make a delicious tortelli made of spinach and ricotta. I’m lucky that all my aunts and cousins ​​are great cooks, so we all help to prepare together. I make the broth and it’s become a tradition.

Do you still cook every day?

Yes. I have four restaurants in total, all in London, but I’m based in Murano. They are basically self sufficient and I only go when I have to.

Dish is available from all podcast providers

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