Traditional employers of blue-collar workers such as retailers, hospitality, and manufacturers (especially in textile, garment, shoes) have seen their recruiting costs gone up while employee retention rates have trended down in the past few years, putting pressure on both P&L and organizational stability for growth. Many workers also move to the gig economy jobs for daily pay with a more flexible schedule.

True costs of turnover have also been underestimated. A 2018 study by Harvard University1 benchmarks the “real” cost of losing an employee – from recruiting, onboarding, training, and productivity lost – equals 16-20% of annual salary. If a factory is losing a worker with a VND 8 million monthly salary, that factory will likely incur an implied loss of VND 18-20 million in turnover costs.

Moving to flexible pay similar to the gig economy, while attractive to worker retention, remains a challenge for employers due to technology and administrative burden, and cash flow issues. At the same time, a majority of Vietnamese workers are living from paycheck to paycheck and any sudden expenses could put them in financial distress, making tens of millions vulnerable to debt traps of micro loans with 300-500%/year interest rates to make ends meet.

To build a service to plugin that gap for employers and employees alike, Nano Technologies, the first homegrown Vietnamese startup selected by the US accelerator Y Combinator, announced it has closed its oversubscribed US$3M seed round. Alongside previous pre-seed co-lead investors Golden Gate Ventures and Venturra Discovery, the Vietnamese start-up welcomed a strong consortium of regional and global investors into its Seed Round, including FEBE Ventures, Openspace Ventures, and U.S.-based Goodwater Capital.

Founded in early 2020 by Dzung Dang (ex-Uber GM and ZaloPay CEO) and Thang Nguyen (CTO Focal Labs and SeeSpace), Nano aims to support employers to keep their workers better and more cost-effectively while helping employees stay out of debts. By partnering with caring employers through a flexible payroll app called VUI, Nano empowers low-income workers to access their earned salary anytime, anywhere to take care of daily expenses without having to wait until the next payday. VUI app also helps workers keep track of work attendance, receive the most important announcements from the company, and learn basic concepts in personal financial management – all for free.

VUI app interface for employees


Launched 6 months ago, VUI app now serves more than 20,000 employees from employers in Vietnam including GS25, LanChi Mart, and Annam Gourmet. On average, 50-60% of employees would sign up for VUI immediately, and use the service about three times a month for early salary.

“Some days I become nearly out of breath, but thanks to VUI I can push myself to go to work. I try my best to do my timekeeping regularly so I can still get early pay from VUI.” said Ms. Ha, a loyal customer of VUI working at Annam Gourmet Supermarket. Ha is a breadwinner of her family, who uses VUI 5-8 times per month to cover expenses and regulate finances to pay down debts.

“On-demand salary via VUI is an obvious idea and practical HR initiative that LanChi team is pleased to roll out to our employees as a new voluntary benefit. VUI provides a much-needed financial lifeline from LanChi to our employees, keeping the employee morale up during the Covid-19 pandemic and reducing attrition rates post-Tet. The initiative also helps our team save time and resources processing salary advance requests from our employees” – said Chi Phan, CEO of LanChi Mart, a 2,000-employee subsidiary of Central Retail.

 VUI app has supported more than 20,000 employees from leading employers such as GS25, LanChi Mart, and Annam Gourmet, to get salary on demand


The employer-sponsored salary advance model has been adopted by thousands of employers in the U.S., Europe and Latin America and delivered millions of dollars of cost savings. Walmart, the largest retailer globally, has adopted this solution since 2017 for their 1.4m workforce with over USD 300mn of bottom-line impact annually. Harvard Kennedy School has conducted a statistical research1 and recommended EWA for companies which employ a large base of low-income/hourly workers.

CEO Dzung Dang shared: “Given the ubiquity and acuteness of the cashflow mismatch problem for the working people, more frequent payroll is not only good for low-income workers but also a tactical yet underappreciated initiative that employers could deploy to stand out in the labor market. This model also eliminates the need for black market credit at small ticket sizes.”

Shane Chesson, Founding Partner at Openspace Ventures, said “Earned wage access is a triple-win for companies, workers and society at large. And we see such models raising the bar for salary practices in Southeast Asia and moving companies towards what is already a norm in developed markets. Openspace Ventures looks forward to lending our support to Nano in its mission to improve the lives of millions of workers in Vietnam.”

1 The Power of the Salary Link: Assessing the Benefits of Employer-Sponsored FinTech Liquidity and Credit Solutions for Low-Wage Working Americans and their Employers – Todd Baker and Snigdha Kumar, 2018

Nano provides an on-demand payroll product that pays workers daily instead of monthly for employers in the retail, service and manufacturing. Employers compete with the gig economy for workers, which comes with a flexible work schedule and pays daily. With Nano, employees can get paid anytime they choose with a tap on their phone. Having raised USD 3 million in the Seed round through YCombinator accelerator, Nano now serves more than 20,000 employees for top employers such as GS Retail, LanChi Mart, Annam Gourmet.  Previously, Dzung (CEO) built multi-million users companies in the role of Uber Country GM for Vietnam and CEO for ZaloPay, a leading mobile wallet company in SEA. Thang (CTO) led engineering for Blockchain, ERP and Augmented Television.