Mobile Payments Increasingly Target the Freelancer Market

December 24, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Increasingly, people are getting away from the corporate rat race—whether it’s by choice or by necessity—and are taking advantage of the gig economy. While this has posed some new challenges in its own right, it’s also made for new opportunities. Recently, we heard about a few such advances in this field, both in getting freelance operations paid, and allowing them to pay as well.

First came word of Earnin, a mobile payments tool that lets anyone who has a bank account and a job get paid instantly. It realized $125 million on a series C funding round, allowing users access to a kind of immediate bank transfer system, and one that comes without fees or other hidden costs. Rather, users voluntarily tip based on what they believe is fair for the services Earnin provides. Earnin has been operating since 2014.

Then word emerged about the rise of virtual cards and the freelance market. With recent reports suggesting that as much as 80 percent of US companies are currently employing some kind of independent contractor, having the necessary infrastructure in place to get these people paid and paying could be a coup. Since commercial cards are having such a problem on this front, virtual cards are working to make a case for themselves instead.

In some cases, businesses are actually requiring contractors to pay their own expenses for later reimbursement. That’s a point that’s proving contentious not only between the businesses and the contractors, but also within the businesses themselves, who believe such a move is a step backward. Others point out that that adds costs to the process, particularly in accounting and oversight.

Both of these measures together show the growing importance of the freelancer in the job market. Considering the lower costs posed by such contractors, it’s no surprise companies are eager to bring such specialists on staff. But such operations require a lot more care and feeding than some may be used to, and in completely different ways.

Having tools in place, therefore, to better address the issue can go a long way toward making it work better for all concerned. New measures like apps and payment cards could indeed be helpful, though only time will tell just how much help mobile payments can be to the freelancer concept.