WiseWage Profiled in Pymnts.com


Earlier this week, Pymnts.com published an extensive report on WiseWage.

We are going to post excerpts from their story on our blog today.

This is an excellent review of our work. The reporter was able to comprehend how WiseWage works, what goals we are trying to accomplish, and why there is a need for our services. She drew from plenty of outside sources to document the extent of the problem of the unbanked.

The Story:

“Expensive,” “time-consuming” and “slow.” All those time-tested descriptors for the paper check paint a problem that’s hard to dispel when employees simply do not have another way to accept their payroll payments. That is a reality for more than 15 million unbanked Americans who do not have bank accounts or the associated routing numbers to supply for direct deposit. For small businesses wanting to ditch the check, that means that building a better, cheaper payroll system is not always quite as simple as asking employees for their direct deposit information.

“At some point in time, the employers just decide they be going to do direct deposit, and they are not going to keep writing checks every two weeks,” Rust said. “They are just through with it. They want to get over to direct deposit, [but] they have workers that are saying ‘But I do not have an account, you have to give me a check.’”

Finding the right disbursements fit

WiseWage works to solve that problem by helping employees sign up for both payroll and debit card solutions. The company’s offerings include a payroll card and five debit cards options. Funds held in any of the accounts are insured by the FDIC.

Rust believes payroll cards are a strong solution for larger companies, which can then use them quickly to extend direct deposit to a wide swath of workers. WiseWage works to provide interested companies with a sheet of these payroll cards, each printed with the routing and account number details needed to establish direct deposit.

For small companies, though, the initial work to begin offering a payroll card program can be burdensome, Rust explained. The most efficient solution for these groups is to instead direct employees to select and sign up for specific debit cards linked to a bank account. After completing the setup process, workers can provide employers with card and account information and be added to direct deposit even before their cards arrive in the mail. “That is a big virtue when you are in your payroll office and are an employer hoping to finish this sign-up process,”

Companies can also post breakroom flyers and posters directing employees to WiseWage’s website,

which features information and pre-populated forms to facilitate sign up for the worker’s choice of card. In some cases, employees can even sign up via a mobile app.

Picture of card
construction workers payroll

Filling out offerings

The company is seeing higher demand for cards from North Carolinian farming groups,

populations which tend to rely on immigrant employees living and working under temporary legal status provided by the H-2A program

The workers are often unbanked, and they often seek features like comprehensive Spanish language offerings and remittance services with lower fees than those charged by MoneyGram, Western Union, and other major players, Rust said.

Meeting language needs is especially challenging. “There are very few examples of bank accounts out there that are fully in Spanish,” he said. marketing materials in Spanish, but once you get into the customer service on the web page, what’s in writing is in English.

Rust’s top concern for any card featured on WiseWage’s site is that it comes with no overdraft fees — something that can result in punishing costs leading consumers to decide that being banked is too expensive an endeavor. As such, each of the cards offered must come with no overdraft fees.

Industry uptake

The organization’s direct deposit-enabling solutions have drawn interest from a variety of industries, including construction, nursing care, vocational rehabilitation and restaurant, cafeteria and hospitality, Rust said. WiseWage’s very first customer was a disaster relief agency that wanted to be able to quickly hire workers — and enable them to use their money right away — during operations in response to a hurricane.

No matter what industry they come from, Rust explained, the disbursement pain point for most employers is usually the same. “Their problem is about time — they want to get this direct deposit problem solved, and quickly,” he said. For paper checks, it seems time might finally be running out.

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