Australian Entrepreneur Sets Sights on Pioneering UK's First Comprehensive Super App

Employment Hero, an Australian unicorn, is making waves with its ambitious plans to conquer the UK market. Founded by Ben Thompson, Employment Hero has gained significant traction and funding, with its most recent Series F round totaling €158 million, valuing the company at €1.2 billion. Thompson's vision extends beyond HR tech; he's set his sights on transforming the way employees manage their work, get paid, and save, akin to building the UK's first "super app."

The Journey to UK Expansion: Employment Hero marked its official entry into the UK market last year, following expansions into New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore. The company's expansion strategy is underpinned by the goal of doubling its London workforce from 90 to 180 employees within a year. With a current client base of over 20,000 SMEs in the UK, Employment Hero aims to make the UK its largest market within the next three years.

Controlling Payroll and Payments: Employment Hero's core offering includes payroll management, allowing it to influence when employees receive their payments. By enabling flexible payment schedules, employees can opt to be paid daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on their preferences. This level of financial flexibility has the potential to reshape traditional payroll practices.

Introducing Instapay and Swag: Beyond payroll, Employment Hero has launched Instapay, a real-time payment solution that includes a digital Visa debit card and a spending account integrated into the firm's app, named Swag. Although it may sound similar to payday loans, Thompson emphasizes that Instapay aims to break the cycle of debt. Users are charged around £1 to use the card.

Utilizing Collective Bargaining Power: In Australia, Employment Hero harnessed its substantial workforce to negotiate advantageous rates from various service providers, such as energy companies, with payments directly deducted from employee salaries. In the UK, the company has partnered with embedded finance firm Weavr and is actively pursuing regulatory compliance with HMRC and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to facilitate earned wage access.

The Vision of a "Super App": Thompson envisions going beyond HR tech, aiming to launch a recruitment portal that employs AI to match job seekers with suitable positions. This strategic move positions Employment Hero as a comprehensive employment management platform. It plans to support the entire employee lifecycle, from onboarding to payroll to benefits, and even facilitating smart spending.

Super App Ambitions: Thompson refers to Swag as a "super app," an all-encompassing tool that simplifies finding work, managing employment, receiving payments, and making smart financial decisions. While this ambition might seem ambitious, it's not unfounded. Muz Ashraf, a general partner at TCV, one of Employment Hero's Series F investors, acknowledges the success of HR tech firms but remains cautious about labeling it a "super app."

Employment Hero's journey into the UK market is marked by innovation, ambition, and a vision for redefining how employees manage their work and finances. As it seeks to become the UK's first super app, Employment Hero aims to disrupt the HR tech landscape and redefine the employee experience, potentially transforming the way we approach work and financial management.



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