Storytelling About Branch With Atif Siddiqi

We’re thrilled to unfold the story of Atif Siddiqi, the innovative mind behind Branch, a workforce payments platform that promises to revolutionize industries. Atif and his team at Branch are ramping up the way payments are handled in healthcare, restaurant, and gig economies like Uber, with their groundbreaking digital wallet feature. Now, workers can cash out their payments swiftly and at no extra cost. What’s more, other sectors are not left behind; Branch’s digital wallet and card service offer them financial inclusivity.

In this enlightening conversation, we’re also pulling back the curtain on how Branch is orchestrating a shift in employer-led financial services, aiming to provide an easy banking experience for employees. Excitingly, branch is not just about payments; they’re about financial wellness. So, we’ll be delving into their success stories providing liquidity and cash flow to workers. You’ll learn how Branch is excelling in healthcare, logistics, and hospitality industries. Also, They have future plans for enriching their payment options to provide choices for every worker. Join us, and explore how Branch’s forward-thinking platform is not only serving industries but also creating great opportunities.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 18 minutes

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Atif Siddiqi
Founder/CEO Branch

Helping businesses accelerate payments to empower working Americans


Storytelling About Branch With Atif Siddiqi

William Tincup: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Atif on from Branch, and we’re learning about the business case, the ROI, the cost benefit analysis, the use case for why his customers and prospects choose Branch. So while we do some introductions, Atef, would you do me, do us a favor and introduce both yourself and branch?

Atif Siddiqi: Thanks, William. Atif Siddiqi, founder, CEO of Branch. Branch, we’re a workforce payments platform that really helps businesses compete for workers by enabling instant payments with easy to launch solutions. Really, our [00:01:00] goal is to help businesses pay any worker, anytime, anywhere.

William Tincup: Ooh, I like that. I like all of that.

One of the things that, recently I was going through a Taco Bell and I saw this bid on one of the windows and it was like, Apply today, work today, get paid today. And I was just, it was fascinating. I don’t know the kind of how all that works, but I was just fascinated.

Like works change now in the hourly market. I’m sure that this is, this has probably been going on for more than, but also recently learned that in the professional salaried world, that it’s also starting to move there. So give us kind of an overview of the industries that, that where this is working and where you think that the, where it’s going.

Thank you.

Atif Siddiqi: Yeah. Really where we focus on our industry is where there’s a high competition for talent and there’s a tech market. And in addition to places like restaurants where you see the Taco Bell poster. It’s also. Industries like health care with nurses, [00:02:00] right? And their staffing companies that are looking to attract and retain nurses to their platform.

It’s good companies like Uber that are out there competing, for ride share, right? Services where, workers have choices and. Essentially, they look at a company like branch to provide incentives around this, like faster payments to keep current workers happy to keep perspective hires as an incentive for them to come to the work for these companies.

And so it’s really a big benefit that. Makes a meaningful impact to worker’s lives. So do

William Tincup: you, do you do you see it? Like an Uber and Lyft, right? They can tab out after a ride. Like they do one ride and they tab out. Or they can tab out at the end of the day or, whatever the bid is.

Do you see it being that flexible where the employee chooses when they want to get their whatever’s accrued, right? So we’re dealing with whatever’s accrued to that point.

Atif Siddiqi: That’s right. And I think, the difference between a company like Branch and just being able to cash out, say, [00:03:00] after every ride is that, those cash outs become really cost prohibitive, right?

Either to the couple having to pay or to the worker, meaning that there’s some transaction costs incurred. With Branch, what we’ve done is, the core of our product is a digital wallet. And what that wallet allows us to do is to send payments to workers at any time, free of cost. So you might be wondering, like, how do we make money off of this?

Because we make money anytime that Uber driver goes out and swipes their card, right? That’s associated with that digital wallet. We make it by interchange for the merchant. So I think it’s a nice way to align, the incentives for ranch as a company, as well as the incentives for the worker where it’s not, they’re not incurring extra fees, extra costs just to access their cash.

Oh, I love

William Tincup: that. I love that so much. And again, I liked how you positioned both. This is a great way to retain talent and also a great way to attract talent. So the mechanisms inside, like when, now I’m going to ask you a couple of buy [00:04:00] side stuff, but who are you selling into? Are you selling into finance?

Are you selling into, to HR? Who’s the, who’s your kind of your point of contact on the sales side?

Atif Siddiqi: Yeah. So when it comes to attracting retaining talent, right? That’s usually a HR people issue, right? They’re always looking to see how they can retain talent. On the cost side. Yeah, it’s usually a CFO, right?

They definitely need a need where again if they want to do high frequency payments we enable that because it’s a very cost effective way to do it with just our, our digital wallet and just fee free options to the business. So do you see

William Tincup: yourself in a category of earned wage access, or do you see yourself tangential to that?

Atif Siddiqi: It’s a little tangential, right? So what we’ve done is really widen the aperture, if you will, from just wage access. That’s where we started. That’s what I thought. Yeah, payments, but we realized the opportunity here of exhilarating worker payments is far greater than just, 50 to 100 [00:05:00] sort of safety net for workers.

And so what we’ve done is look at other worker payment issues let’s say tips, right? You’re a pizza delivery driver, and you work at this job because you depend on these tips at the end of the shift, right? You have income right away. And ultimately there’s no cash at the end of the day to tip you out though, right?

Everybody’s paying credit cards, mobile ordering. And really what we’ve done is digitize that whole process. So now, instead of waiting for two weeks to get your tips on the paycheck, you can pick up a card when start working for Domino’s. And if you want to get your tips every day, we’ll literally just push those tips at the end of every shift to your card.

William Tincup: And this might be a dumb question, so dumb question alert. Does that help with the unbanked, with the folks that are unbanked? We have a whole population in the United States that are just unbanked, right? Does that, by them having a card, does that help them?

Atif Siddiqi: That’s right. The digital wallet is [00:06:00] FDIC insured account, right?

We use our partner bank, Evolve Bank and Trust. And ultimately, yeah, it’s a fee free checking account where you can get a bank account up and running through, the company you work for. And it’s a great way to, and what we see too, is a lot of people start using branch, let’s just say to get their tips and they realize oh, this is actually like a great banking alternative to, large bank.

I’m using, there’s no fees, there’s free ATMs and one out of four users actually switch to branch as their primary account. So we own that relationship with that worker over time.

William Tincup: Oh, that’s cool. So they can move from company to company. It doesn’t really matter. One of the things that I love is it gets us away from predatory kind of lending.

Places. And I like that a lot. But I want to ask the, another kind of dumb question, but it’s like, why? Cause it sounds, everything sounds great, but why would say, why would people say no? What’s, when people either, as you’re going through proposals and pitching to people, it just seems like a no brainer to me, but, But [00:07:00] also no HR and finance.

So what are the no’s that they give you?

Atif Siddiqi: Yeah. I think any objection we have is more around the education of how easy it is to launch a solution like branch, right? So it’s a lot of, it’s Oh, what is this going to take? Obviously all the fee free options to educate them, like how we make money.

And yeah, I think one of the strengths of the company is that we really figured out how to create these solutions where there’s not a lot of overhead. There’s not a lot of tech resources required to launch. A good example of this is Uber, right? Where Uber came to us looking for a white label solution.

Something that feels like the uber brand, and we were able to launch that and get that to market in a really short amount of time. And, for a company like uber, they realize their core competency is logistic. It’s moving people. It’s moving things. And they look to a partner like us where we can, you know.

Be able to get a product to [00:08:00] market really quickly.

William Tincup: I love that. A couple of things now we’ll, I want to deal with the software side of things. So when your folks demo or occasion on the occasion that you get to actually show, show folks software, what did they fall in love with? What do you fall in love with?

What do you think that they fall in love with?

Atif Siddiqi: I think one of the most powerful things we do when we demo is we’ll actually sign up the prospect to a branch account on the call and we’ll push money to that branch account in a matter of seconds, right? Oh,

William Tincup: that’s

Atif Siddiqi: cool. That dollar or whatever we push it’s, I think we do a cup of coffee, 5 to their account.

It’s really powerful, right? You can see that money hit your account that you can go use. And I think that’s when the moment the light bulb clicks of Oh, this could be really impactful for their workers who, as you mentioned, like oftentimes if they’re struggling with cashflow, they’re resorting to more predatory measures.

Yeah. So what

William Tincup: are questions, one of the reasons that we this podcast exists is [00:09:00] trying to teach practitioners what’s available to them. And so that’s why focusing on the vendor side of things, what are, but also want to educate them as to questions that they should ask and the buy side.

So if you could script it, what are the questions that you’d love to hear from finance or HR? What are the questions that they should be asking you? Yeah, I think under

Atif Siddiqi: the hood, 1 of the things that makes us special too, is we don’t require any pre funding. If you think of in the case of a W2 worker, for example, with payroll, you’re having to lock up a lot of the company’s cash into an escrow account for payroll.

Similarly with, a 1099 worker where, you need to maybe park some money aside. And so then, pretty funny piece is really big because what we’ll do is we’ll do some basic underwriting on the company itself, and we will push the capital to the worker that same day. And then.

Draw it down from the company. And so ultimately let’s improves like the cash conversion cycle for companies, right? They’re able to use that cash and generate, for their, for the company [00:10:00] or generate interest income themselves. Yeah.

William Tincup: It’s interesting. The the, I can see, first of all, the questions around stand up like, okay, how fast can we stand this up with our workforce?

I can see that question. Is there any other integrations where does this need to be connected to payroll or benefits or compensation? Does there any kind of plumbing that needs to be done?

Atif Siddiqi: There is, right? There’s a couple of data points we need to make the system work. One is how much does somebody make?

How often do they work? And so all that, like we take care of and integrate either to a system of record, if it’s a W2 worker, the payroll if it’s a company like Uber, they usually have that data. And so we’ll connect to that in real time. So

William Tincup: FinTech?

Or an HR tech

Atif Siddiqi: company, I would say we’re in the middle of both and

William Tincup: That’s what I was struggling with. I’m like, first of all, I could, I guess I could make a case for both. But you do [00:11:00] have your foot in both of those, right? One, I think there used to be a kind of a phrase, one foot in a canoe, the other in a speedboat.

So you’ve got. You’ve got your feet in both. I’ve not done a lot of work in the fintech space, so I couldn’t tell you anything about it. What’s different about, so you have, so what’s different about fintech than HR

Atif Siddiqi: tech? Yeah, I would say the reason I mentioned HR Tech is that Branch, the only way we acquire users on our platformers is through a company that they work for, right?

So a consumer can’t go on and just sign up for a Branch account. With that said, we do provide really great consumer banking like experiences, right? I mentioned the one out of four people use this as a primary account. Once they leave their company, they can still continue to use Branch as like a, Fee free checking account.

And so that’s why it’s and what we really see is this idea of employer led financial services, right? If you think about in the past, it’s employer led financial services are more focused [00:12:00] around like longer term objectives, right? It’s for FSAs. Whereas we’re solving for this new generation of workers, right?

That maybe needs some more short term needs like liquidity and cashflow, help with cashflow. So

William Tincup: we did talk about earned wage access and I know y’all started there and you’ve morphed into something else. What do you call that category? And again, I hate software categories, so just bear with me, but like you’re not, you do some of that, but what you do much more what do you

Atif Siddiqi: call that?

Yeah, I know I mentioned the employer led financial services. I think another category that’s emerging. That’s on the radar of a lot of the HR professionals is like financial wellness, right? That financial wellness is just as important as like health wellness. And making sure the financial well being of their employees is taken care of is another category we see.

William Tincup: I like that a lot because again, you said health health, wellness mental [00:13:00] health financial health, like all those things are wonderful and it gives you another entry point. So if not through HR directly the benefits folks that deal with all of the things that are, all the wellness programs and things like a compensation that’s another category to go after as well.

That’s it. That’s cool. Tell us a little success stories and no brands or anything like that. It’s more of the story of maybe even someone who’s a bit skeptical and then all of a sudden they’re like, yeah, I can’t do without this. Yeah, I

Atif Siddiqi: mean, I really go back to where we. I mentioned like opening the aperture on like other worker payment use cases, like during the pandemic, we were working with a lot of dominoes piece of franchisees, and they really saw the value of the ability for us to push money at any time.

So they actually came to us saying Hey, listen, your wallets great. Is there a way you can help us support paying tips to drivers? Cause we just don’t have any cash at the end of the day. Like our managers are running to ATMs or. [00:14:00] Or a lot of cash on site and we’re like, yeah, absolutely. That sounds like a great case.

As long as you get us the data, like we’re able to make that happen. And it was a big win, for both sides when for the worker where, they didn’t have to wait now till their paycheck to get their tips. And we can push that immediately. And, one of the other innovations we did was we launched a product that allows us to push preprinted cards, right?

So they didn’t have to wait in the mail for a card to come in. We just. Put a stack of cards at their, employee break room and they can pick one up, scan it and their tips would be on that same day. I love that. So

William Tincup: What’s the and again, any more of those stories that those are great because practitioners love hearing those, but I did have a question around go to market and getting your brand out there.

So how do how are y’all looking at this? We’re two quarters into this year. What is it what’s the idea for the rest of the year of getting people to to know what branch is and what they do.

Atif Siddiqi: Yeah. I think for us, it’s really looking at [00:15:00] other industries, that have this competition for talent.

And I would say this year, one of the larger industries we’ve been targeting is around healthcare nurse staffing companies where, you know, as there’s like a shortage of nurses, a lot of these platforms, a lot of nurses are also open to doing. More contract works or 1099 work and a lot of platforms have emerged are getting a lot of, growing really rapidly and ultimately working with those platforms to pay nurses faster has been a big big driver for the company.

Other areas around logistics, like last mile delivery not just the Ubers of the world, we’re also companies that are doing, essentially shipping packages to. To customers doorsteps, right? So there’s a lot of these players too that have been growing. And then finally, in the hospitality space we started off in quick service restaurants are now expanding into full service restaurants, whereas you would imagine tips are a big part of, those workers lives as well.

And yeah, making sure that they can get paid immediately.

William Tincup: So on the technical roadmap, [00:16:00] what’s without just divulging anything secret or anything like that, but what’s next? What do you think that the, what do you see this, if we were to have this podcast a year from now, what do you think we would be talking about?

Atif Siddiqi: Yeah, I think for us, we Realize that workers want options, right? And so although we started at the core of the product with a wallet, which I mentioned, we’ve now also launched solutions that allow workers to also get paid to their bank accounts that they want, right? And so just workers, a suite of options that allow them to, again, access their money however they want has been really important.

I think that’s important for the company because now we own really all worker payments coming through branch, whether you want to get it. Push to your existing bank account, whether you want to get for free to a, our wallet that’s all enabled.

William Tincup: So last question, and I think you covered it before, but I want to make sure the practitioners understand it.

It’s how you make money. Where in this process do you make money or where do, where are they going to feel it? I guess it’s probably some of the things that [00:17:00] they would care about too.

Atif Siddiqi: Yeah, for the company’s selves. It’s you know, we have fee free options, right? There’s no cost to the company where we make money is one via interchange, right?

So anytime a worker goes out, swipes their physical debit card, makes a purchase online through the wallet. We make it from the merchant. The other thing we do too is like again mentioning the optionality. We allow workers to push money out to existing accounts. We do that for free via ACH right now, but we also charge a small fee like most digital wallets and then no cash app if they do a debit card to debit card transfer.

So that’s the other way. That’s excellent.

William Tincup: Atif, this has been fantastic. I love what you’re doing because it’s, as you said, it’s it meets employees where they are. It meets talent. So again, as we recruit and retain talent, the talent wants to be paid a certain way, which is we can keep trying to force them into some false model or we can just meet them where they are.

I love that. I love what you built and thank you so much for coming on the [00:18:00] podcast. Thank you, William. Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening until next time.

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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