NiYO Solutions Inc., an emerging fintech startup for salaried employees, has raised $13.2 million [85 crore] in Series A funding to drive the continued expansion of its payroll and benefits platform in India. The investment was made by Social Capital, JS Capital LLC [the family office of Jonathan Soros], and Horizons Ventures with participation by existing investor, Prime Venture Partners. In total, the company has raised more than $14 million in venture capital. Adding on to its continued growth and popularity among businesses across India, NiYO aims to serve 5000 organizations and over 1 million salaried employees by the end of 2018.

NiYO was launched in July 2016 as a pilot in Bengaluru and has already clocked more than 500 corporates and is being used by over 100,000 salaried employees in these organisations, through its partnerships with YES Bank and DCB Bank. NiYO is a one-stop solution for all employee payouts; it’s solutions include salary accounts, meal cards, canteen solutions, corporate gift card, reimbursements account, international travel card and corporate credit cards.

With this fresh funding, NiYO plans to strengthen and expand its product suite for the salaried segment besides taking the product to tier 2 and 3 towns. The funding will also be used for further product development, team expansion and increasing presence in tier 1 cities. The addressable market is close to 75 million salaried employees in India who can benefit through a simple payroll & benefits solution which can increase the take home salaries and simplify financial planning & other banking needs.

Employee Payroll in India and around the world has traditionally seen very little innovation in the past several decades with banks hardly providing any differentiation to customers. This, coupled with inefficient, paper-driven processes mean that most employers and employees fail to take advantage of tax exemptions and other savings that the law provides for. Same holds true for investment and lending products for salaried class where the power of payroll is largely ignored in product design.

NiYO believes that it’s cutting edge technology and processes can combine the erstwhile unconnected worlds of Human Resources and Financial Services. The future is mobile and with support for disruptive platforms such as Aadhaar and the Unified Payment Interface [UPI], NiYO will enable its customers to simplify and control their banking, taxation & finance needs. All this while ensuring a transparent, compliant & efficient process for employers. NiYO has also filed multiple product & process patents in this space.

NiYO comprises of a corporate portal for salary disbursal, payroll card to receive salary and spend on ATM/POS/Online and a mobile app to track transactions and do basic banking functions like fund transfer etc. With eKYC and self-onboarding enabled on the NiYO app, users can easily access their account details and keep a tab on their expenditures and allowances digitally. It also has a capability to attach bill proof through mobile and also allow digital storage of bill and receipts on the cloud.

The mobile app allows employees to review all card transactions as well as check balances in real time. While it helps the organizations to digitize the benefits and payroll process and be more compliant and transparent, it also provides employees a unique experience of a single card for all requirements. The solution does not require either the corporate or the employee to change bank accounts.

Vinay Bagri, CEO & Co-founder, NiYO, said

These are exciting times at NiYO. We deeply believe that the rapidly growing number of salaried employees in India have not seen much innovation when it comes to their own payroll and benefits. They are mobile and app-savvy and very demanding. At NiYO, our core objective is to maximize employees’ effective salary by bringing innovations in payroll and benefits processes. Our aim is to optimize the product suite for employees in areas of taxation, lending and wealth. We have been fortunate to partner with JS Capital, Social Capital, Horizon Ventures and Prime – all of whom are top tier investors with deep fintech and operational expertise to take us to the next level.

Arjun Sethi, Partner, Social Capital, said

NiYO is digitizing the entire employee payroll and benefits value chain, making the process easier and more transparent for employers and employees alike. This is an area that hasn’t seen much innovation in the Indian technology ecosystem, despite the massive addressable market. We believe that India is on the brink of unprecedented consumer consumption, and that movement begins with infrastructure that manages people’s earnings in a reliable and modern way.

Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, said

NiYO’s strong growth since its inception is testament to both the innovative nature as well as rapid customer adoption of their solution which addresses a massive opportunity – providing effortless and innovative solution to manage payroll and benefits, powered by mobile. The combination of SmartPhone penetration and IndiaStack makes the timing right for NiYO’s patent-pending innovations to come to market. We are privileged to be associated with this stellar team from the start of their journey and be part of their vision to disrupt the payroll landscape.

About NiYO

Founded in 2015 by Vinay Bagri and Virender Bisht, NiYO’s mission is to increase cash flow for all salaried individuals by leveraging technology in areas of payroll & benefits. NiYo features an integrated solution comprising of a Multi-Pocket Card, a Mobile App and a digital account with multiple wallets.

Vinay has spent more than 18 years working with diverse organisations like Parle, 3M, ICICI Bank, SCB, ING and Kotak Mahindra Bank. He combines deep understanding of distribution and retail banking having spent over a decade in leadership roles across unsecured lending, retail liabilities, corporate salary and retail banking strategy.

Virender is a seasoned technology professional with 16 years of experience in creating world-class software products for companies like MobiKwik, Makemytrip (MMYT),, Exponential Inc, GE Medical Systems and Tata Consultancy Services. Virender is a hands-on technologist and has a reputation for building scalable solutions for e-commerce and payments domain. For more information, please visit NiYO

There is a very interesting thread on Quora about the ‘Percentage of Salaried Class’ in India and though the thread has very interesting answers, one thing that is common across any salaried person [be it employee in  the organized or unorganized sector] is that each one of them wants to maximize their take-home salary. Salaried professionals who are paying tax are always on the look-out to save extra so that can pay less taxes. If you consider the Blue-collar workers, many workers might not fit in the ‘Tax Slab’ and some of them might still not even have a salaried account.

There was a definitive requirement for a product – ‘Digital Banking system‘, that could cater to both the White-collar and the Blue-collar segment. There has been very little innovation made in the banking requirements for the SME and MSME segment. This is where two entrepreneurs Vinay Bagri and Virender Bisht sensed an opportunity and they co-founded NiYO, a fintech company based out of Bengaluru. NiYO helps you maximize your take home salary by enabling you to track, manage and claim various tax benefits like food, gift, medical, fuel, travel, phone etc. NiYO consists of three important components, namely NiYO app that makes mobile banking easy, NiYO corporate portal that is accessible by its corporate clients and NiYO all-in-one card that has role-based entity.

The core-objective of NiYO is ‘Put salary where it truly belongs – in the employee’s hands.’ We had a discussion with Vinay Bagri, Co-founder and CEO, NiYO Solutions about the NiYO app, the overall market being addressed, how NiYO can help employees increase their take home salary, their fintech platform, future road-map, etc. So, let’s get started with the Q&A…

Can you walk us through the NiYO platform that can be used by white-collar employees ?

NiYO is a digital platform for salaried employees. When we talk about salaried employees, they are broadly classified into two categories – White collar employees and Blue collar employees.

NiYO started with a product for white collar employees that is primarily into taxation. There are total 22 items where tax can be saved by the employees. Employees can avail tax benefits across 10~11 items like LIC Premium, Savings under 80C/80G, HRA, etc. Employees have control over other 10~11 items namely LTA, medical allowance, gift vouchers, meal vouchers, etc. Employee and Employer have to work in tandem in order to avail these tax benefits.

How does NiYO helps in maximizing an employee’s take-home salary ?

What NiYO does is that it optimizes these taxation items for employee as well as employer. For employer perspective, NiYO makes these items paperless, easy to maintain and ensure that they are audit and tax compliant.

From employee perspective, employees can avail more benefits since the employer is now able to pass more benefits to the employee. In that process, emoployees are now able to significantly increase their take-home salary. NiYO also offers a virtual bank account.

What are some of the core components of the NiYO platform and what are some of the USP’s of the product ?

The core product of NiYO consists of three main components:

NiYO offers a virtual as well as physical card. Unlike other cards that are offered by other companies, the card offered by NiYO is a combination of debit, credit and prepaid card and it plays an appropriate role based on the outlet/location where the card is being used. For example, when a NiYO user tries to withdraw money, it acts as a ‘Debit Card‘. When user swipes the card at a food outlet, it automatically pulls money from the ‘Food Wallet‘. When an employee/user uses the card for a transaction when (s)he is on an official trip and swipes the card for a reimburseable item, it takes the shape of a ‘Credit Card‘.

In a nutshell, the card that is offered from NiYO is a combination of Debit card, Prepaid card and Credit card.

What are some of the main pain points that are solved by NiYO ?

NiYO solves two major pain points:

  1. Users now have the convinience, where they need not carry more number of cards since the card offering from NiYO is an all-in-one card.
  2. Since our system is intelligent enough to identify the ‘type’ of transaction, it helps employees in saving more from their salary.
Founders of NiYO [L to R] – Virender Bisht and Vinay Bagri [Source]

Please walk us through the NiYO mobile app and walk us through some of the interesting features of the app ?

The mobile app from NiYO has all the major mobile banking features. Employees can attach bills/other expense reports used for official purpose as a proof of expense to the mobile app. In order to ensure that there are no submission of fake bills by the employees, employer gets an intimation when the card is swiped for a transaction. This step acts as a ‘Proof of Payment‘. To take the security to the next level, employee has to also attach the copy of the bill at the location where the card is used. This mechanism is termed as a ‘Proof of Expenditure‘.

This lethal combination of Proof of Payment and Proof of Expenditure is an ideal way for our customers/organizations to make the reimbursement process tax & audit compliant and at the same time ensure that there is ‘zero fraud’ done during the time of submission of bills.

How do your ‘corporate’ clients ensure the authenticity of the transactions and facilities available at their front ?

HR department from NiYO’s client organizations would have access to the corporate portal where they can view the details of the transactions incurred by an employee ‘X’. The employer would have access to the details of the transactions where employees have applied for a reimbursement.

What are some of the advantages of the NiYO card over offerings by players like Sodexho ?

There are number of benefits of the card offered by NiYO when compared to offerings from Sodexho, some of them are listed below:

  1. Sodexho is a single wallet card that can only be used for food items. On the other hand, the card from NiYO can do much more as already discussed earlier and these facilities are availble on a single platform.
  2. With NiYO, you can use the card at any food outlet where they accept payment via VISA/Master/RuPay cards. Sodexho can only be used at around 40K food outlets where they have tie-ups. NiYO has more reach which is close to around one million outlets.
  3. NiYO also has a very interesting feature – split wallet. For example, if 3K is spent at a food outlet but NiYO’s customer [Employee] has only 2K in the food wallet, split wallet feature comes into action. In such a scenario, NiYO would automatically deduct 2K from the the Food card and remaining 1K would be deducted from the Credit card. In this process, a single transaction is automatically optimized for taxation benefits. NiYO acts as a technology provider and for the card, NiYO has tied-up with couple of banks.

Can you talk about the market size for a service like NiYO ?

There are close to 27 ~ 30 million salaried people in India who pay some kind of taxes. NiYO can be used as a salaried account/travel expense product/a fintech product where an employee can do ‘Financial Planning‘. Hence, NiYO would become a full fledged banking product for the employee.

Please share some insights into the Gift card aspects of the NiYO card ?

As far as corporate gifting is concerned, gifts worth INR 4900 are tax-free, beyond which the expense becomes taxable. There is a ‘segregation’ feature on the gift card wallet in order to ensure that an employee gets maximum tax benefits. Hence, there is no requirement for a seperate gift card and NiYO’s client [organization] can seamlessly load money in the gift wallet.

Morever, all the features on the card are customizable and they can be controlled via the ‘Employer portal’. Employers are free to keep it as an ‘open system‘ or a ‘closed system‘. To summarize, NiYO is currently the only player that has all these features with no competition as of now.

What are some of the features around financial planning on the NiYO platform

For tax and financial planning, NiYO has tied-up with H&R Block, which is one of the largest tax planning companies in India. From the NiYO app, an employee can do tax planning, plan savings, etc. There is an option for ‘Self tax planning & assisted filing‘, where someone from the H&R Block would call NiYO corporate customer and provide necessary support.

How has been the overall response to the NiYO App ?

Feedback has been very good, but there is an increasing demand for features like add-on card, etc. The core USP of the NiYO app is the best in-class ‘field process’. For example, you can attach a proof of insurance towards 80D on the NiYO app itself and the review would be either performed by the employee’s finance team or finance experts from the NiYO team. With such facilities at their persual, employees need not visit any other portal for financial planning.

As of today, NiYO has more than one Lakh customers/corporate employees using the NiYO platform. Out of one Lakh customers, around 60K customers use NiYO as a ‘salary account’. NiYO is also used by blue-collar workers that have salary of less than 15,000. None of the financial institutions want to open salary accounts for blue-collar segment and even if the bank does so, they charge fees and there is a minimum balance requirement.

With a nominal fee, NiYO can open a digital salary account. Everything is eKYC compliant and there is no paperwork involved. Messages sent to NiYO’s blue-collar customers are in vernacular language i.e. Hindi since NiYO for blue-collar workers is only rolled-out in North India. Card is charged for everyone, which is close to around 200 INR per year.

Can you share the product roadmap of NiYO?

In the future, NiYO will provide our customers with all the advice related to taxation and financial planning. Unlike other financial platforms, NiYO would consider taxation as a major factor for financial planning. For example, investing in a good Mutual Fund would yield 12~14% returns on a CAGR basis whereas investmets made via the NiYO platform would result in much more returns on the same investment.

Also, our customers can use the NiYO app to do a QR Code transaction since it would be leveraging the Bharat QR code mechanism. Our customers can opt for doing a payment via Unified Payment Interface [UPI]. The end goal of NiYO is to encourage employees go shift to ‘Spend and Forget mode’ since NiYO would be responsible for complete tax planning and savings.

We thank  Vinay Bagri for sharing his insights with our readers. If you are an SME and on the look-out for some good payroll solution, do give NiYO a spin. If have any questions for him or the NiYO Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.