17 October 2017

Powa struggles to pay staff and suppliers

17 February 2016  |  7297 views  |  1 powatag

British payments firm Powa Technologies has held back staff salaries and payments to suppliers, leaving some employees locked out of offices, according to the Financial Times.

The firm's CEO Dan Wagner told staffers in a video message sent at the end of last year and seen by the FT that it was "missing or late with staff payments and salaries," and that payments to "all of our suppliers" had been held back, meaning that some people were locked out of rented office space. Some employees were not paid in January, says the FT, citing sources.

Despite having raised a hefty $175 million, Powa recently had to take out a loan from its biggest investor, Wellington Management, documents dug up by Business Insider show. The loan, the size of which is not stated, requires Powa to put up the entire company as security.

Even with the loan, Wagner admitted in a second video seen by the FT that Powa is only "hopefully well-funded" for 2016 but "I can't commit to that".

Having started life as a Square-clone mPOS outfit, Powa now focusses on its PowaTag app, which lets shoppers buy products from hundreds of participating retailers by snapping QR codes with their phone cameras.

Serial entrepreneur Wagner has boasted the Powa will "revolutionise" commerce and with its hefty funding reportedly valuing the company at $2.7 billion, has spent heavily on ramping up staff numbers into the hundreds, spread across offices in London, New York, Spain, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and South Korea.

The firm's exact financial situation is unclear, though, because it is behind on filing legally required accounts, according to Business Insider. Accounts for 2014 should have been filed by September 2015 and when they were not, Companies House threatened to strike Powa off its register and dissolve the business. The threat was revoked yet the accounts have still not been filed.

Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 19 February, 2016, 10:30

The cited BI article has a line saying Powa didn't take off because of lukewarm consumer adoption. BUY button on Google search results or Pinterest boards, Powa Tag on print ads - neither of them has set the world on fire. Wonder what was the real problem in the case of Powa - not enough ads carrying Powa tags or not enough people scanning QR codes on the ads or poor unit economics or something else.

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