Jason Lee: “Pay experience”

When I realized the need for on-demand pay, my first thought was to build completely from the ground up, to truly start from scratch. By creating DailyPay, that’s exactly what we did. We created a new “pay experience” for both the employee and the employer. From the employee’s viewpoint, she is now at the center. […]

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When I realized the need for on-demand pay, my first thought was to build completely from the ground up, to truly start from scratch. By creating DailyPay, that’s exactly what we did. We created a new “pay experience” for both the employee and the employer.

From the employee’s viewpoint, she is now at the center. She has complete control over her pay. She can see what she earns each day, access her money to pay bills on time, and put money from her earned pay directly into her savings account, all before what used to be called payday.

From the employer’s viewpoint, they have a much more engaged workforce. You see, when you put employees at the center of the pay experience, they actually start behaving differently. For starters, they stay with the company longer. Our clients report an increase in retention of 45%. Employees are also more engaged at work and more likely to pick up extra shifts. Importantly, this is all accomplished without changing a single thing about the employer’s payroll process today.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Lee, a fintech entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of DailyPay, the current market leader in the on-demand pay software sector.

A financial engineer by training, Mr. Lee spent nearly two decades on Wall Street creating numerous new products and markets to manage areas of risk. In 2015 he disrupted the calcified world of payroll processing by launching a start-up that grew into a premiere enterprise software company that promotes financial wellness.

Jason’s vision for DailyPay was to create products to deepen the relationship between the employer and employee. DailyPay’s mission is to democratize access to pay for the most people, providing them with financial security and peace of mind.

He leads DailyPay’s Management Committee and serves as Chairman for the Board of Directors.

DailyPay has been awarded a Top 500 Human Capital Management Application (#112), Financial Services Platform of the Year (2019), Stevie Award for Financial Company of the Year (2019), and a Top 10 HRMS Tech Company (2018, 2019).

An innovator with a mission, purpose and real results, Jason is a well-known public speaker and author whose work has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. He has been recognized as one of the premier thought leaders in global finance by the International Financing Review and Milken Global Institute. He has also been named one of the Top 20 Digital Innovators in Benefits, by Employee Benefits News.

Throughout Jason’s long-standing career in the financial services industry, he has served as Chairman of the Board of SafeSpace, a social services nonprofit based in New York City dedicated to family rights advocacy.

Mr. Lee is an ardent supporter of organizations focused on fair representation, equity, and re-entry including The Kalief Browder Foundation, House of Renewed Hope, Innocence Project, and Defy Ventures, all of which focus on the rights of the falsely accused, in particular for those who do not have the resources or means for fair representation.

Mr. Lee graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Before founding DailyPay, I worked on Wall St. for almost 20 years, where I built and led a Global Structured Equity Group. While there, I saw a profound need for working Americans to have flexible access to their pay and to improve their financial wellness. My background as a financial engineer helped me to see how an outdated payroll system affects the well being of employees and the bottom line of employers. In many organizations, payroll systems are outdated and lack the modern capabilities needed to meet changing business and compliance needs. Nearly eight in 10 full-time workers in the US live from paycheck to paycheck. Delaying payroll even by just a week would throw 66% of Americans into financial turmoil.

In 2015, that realization became a mission. Hard-working Americans needed money to support themselves and their families but had to wait two weeks (or more!) to get paid, often putting them in dire financial situations. The two-week pay cycle wasn’t working. People were getting second jobs just to get immediate funds to make ends meet. There had to be a better way.

What if we were to innovate and change payroll — rebuild it from the ground up, but put the employee at the center of the system this time?

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It’s extremely difficult to pinpoint just one story over the last five years of building DailyPay. From incredible stories of our employee users being able to pay their bills on time or help their loved ones in need, to the stories of retention and recruiting transformations our partners have seen as a result of implementing this benefit, DailyPay’s impact shows just how essential on-demand pay has become. We’ve started an incredible awakening across America’s leading employers to show that they must pay differently. DailyPay isn’t just a benefit, it is truly changing basic life dynamics in the most incredible way.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Start simple.

Diversity is how you win.

See the circle.

These are the principles that have guided me through my life and my career, as well as values that our incredible team at DailyPay lives up to each day. Everyone has to start somewhere, and often the hardest part is actually getting started. I myself try to make continuous, incremental improvements by challenging myself and growing with every opportunity.

Diversity is an incredible strength to have in an organization. I am constantly ensuring that I incorporate diverse perspectives into the way we run our business. In fact, I believe it’s a business imperative. I dedicate myself to ensuring diversity across all facets of DailyPay. This includes everything from testing ideas against other people’s thoughts to being actively involved in and supporting the employee resource groups that foster inclusivity across our organization.

“See the circle” is something that the DailyPay team has heard (too) many times, but I’ll never stop saying it. Personally and professionally, working as a team drives superior results. Seeing the “we” and being collaborative by nature brings synergies far beyond what I could ever accomplish alone.

Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

When I realized the need for on-demand pay, my first thought was to build completely from the ground up, to truly start from scratch. By creating DailyPay, that’s exactly what we did. We created a new “pay experience” for both the employee and the employer.

From the employee’s viewpoint, she is now at the center. She has complete control over her pay. She can see what she earns each day, access her money to pay bills on time, and put money from her earned pay directly into her savings account, all before what used to be called payday.

From the employer’s viewpoint, they have a much more engaged workforce. You see, when you put employees at the center of the pay experience, they actually start behaving differently. For starters, they stay with the company longer. Our clients report an increase in retention of 45%. Employees are also more engaged at work and more likely to pick up extra shifts. Importantly, this is all accomplished without changing a single thing about the employer’s payroll process today.

How do you think this will change the world?

The antiquated payroll system is an outdated relic of the past. We are living in a digital, contactless world where you can access almost anything you want at the touch of a button. And millions of our users have come to rely on easy access to their money as they earn it. It has literally been a life-changer for millions.

As we’ve been building out our franchise, we started to notice something interesting. We didn’t set out to become a bank, but we noticed our users treating us like one.

78% say they use the DailyPay product to avoid overdraft fees. It’s cheaper and now that they have savings in their bank accounts, they avoid the risk of the bank shutting down their account due to a negative balance.

Almost all of our users pay a portion of their bills directly out of their bank account, but that service is completely useless if they don’t have the money in the account to pay those bills on time. 87% of DailyPay users say they use our product so that they can pay bills on time that they would otherwise pay late.

Not everyone has or wants to use a credit card to go to the store freely and buy things whenever they need them. This is why 74% of our users say they transfer earned wages so that they too can buy groceries or supplies today, when they need them as if they had a credit card.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

The only obstacle in our way is fear of something new. For payroll professionals, the last thing they want is their job to become more complicated, but in reality, we are making their jobs easier. The benefits administrator has been so focused on the suite of benefits, they have neglected the one thing employees care about most — getting paid quicker. Seeing opportunities for innovation, improvement and change gives one the ability to change the world.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

About six years ago, I had a revelation as I was ordering pizza one night. I thought to myself that it was so arbitrary that hard-working Americans, like my pizza delivery guy, had to wait until a designated payday to access the money they had already earned. I took a hard look at the entire landscape of how people were paid in this country, and all I saw was a mess. We have a pay system that revolves around the employer. It results in completely arbitrary decisions regarding payday schedules that don’t work for most employees. Those employees then seek highly inferior alternatives, like payday loans, to address the gaps caused by that system’s failure.

And so that led me to this question: what if we were to radically change payroll and rebuild it from the ground up, but this time, we put the employee at the center of the system?

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We are well on our way to widespread adoption. 86% of Fortune 100 companies that offer an on-demand pay benefit use DailyPay as their provider. The global pandemic has accelerated this adoption as companies begin to realize that DailyPay is a zero-cost benefit that can support their employees through both day-to-day life and unprecedented financial emergencies.

With a DailyPay benefit, employees are more productive and stay at their jobs longer. This saves companies millions each year on recruitment costs and gives them a competitive advantage when trying to attract top talent.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Do Your Research — Knowledge is power, research is fuel. Never settle for the status quo. Strive to be a perpetual student and always be prepared. Stop at nothing to get it right every time. Understand that views may differ or change, yours included.

Pull The Wagon — Winning takes teamwork, ambition and diligence, not egos. Pitch in and do whatever it takes to move the company forward. Lead or follow, but be an active part of the solution.

Move The Line — Break the rules. Push the boundaries. Stretch the limits. Be forward-thinking and not afraid to innovate.

Be Long-Term Hungry — To build a generational company, we strive for flawless execution in everything we do. Be obsessed with ensuring the success of our clients, our users, our shareholders and our colleagues.

Act Like an Owner — Decisions are creative opportunities for expansiveness. Be greedy for the best long-term outcome, even if it causes short-term sacrifice. Act with purpose and invent the future. Be maniacally focused on building the best long-term solutions for our stakeholders.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

In my position, I’m incredibly lucky to have a unique oversight into the success mindsets of some of the most talented leaders who are consistently attaining new levels of achievement. Just recently, we announced our 2020 Class of Directors, and it made me truly reflect on what drives success. After many hours deliberating, this incredible group of 5 business leaders and culture carriers stood out, as they display incredible habits and mindsets that are key to success.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There is a massive market opportunity for this space, and DailyPay is the clear number one player in this market, which we invented. We founded the company in 2016 and by year-end, there were two companies doing what we did: ourselves and one other. Today, there are 27 companies in the United States, and 18 in other countries, including New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. We are the gold standard in the market. We work with 86% of the Fortune 100 who offer on-demand pay. We have over 200 employer partners and have never lost a customer that represented more than 0.1% of our revenue.

The future of DailyPay is not just as a valuable tool within the payroll marketplace. We can own the entire financial experience of a worker from the time she logs her first hour of the day to the time she pays her bills and saves what is left over in her paycheck.

We know our users love our product and they are loyal. Think about any consumer financial company. Their first interaction with you is to convince you to use their product. With our users, we don’t need to convince them because we’ve already proven to them our loyalty and our dependability.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonleem2/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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