PayPal: Freelancers Need Mobile Payments

February 9, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

You may have heard of the “gig economy,” a steadily-growing movement in which companies stop hiring employees and instead hire independent contractors. There are lots of reasons to do this from a business standpoint: a better tax picture for the employer, fewer rules and restrictions to deal with, and several others. But a gig economy requires infrastructure in its own right, and PayPal—fresh off its recent impending breakup with eBay—may be looking to take better advantage of the gig economy itself.

PayPal recently released its “Global Freelancer Insights Report,” which took a closer look at the freelance market. The report, perhaps not surprisingly, found that freelancers value mobility—mobile apps, communications tools and even payments—to the point where they even value mobility for its ability to invoice client firms and receive payments.

Of course, security is also an important factor; fully 44 percent cited security in determining measures to get paid for work, and 38 percent cited speed. PayPal, again perhaps not surprisingly, rated high among freelancers as the preferred payment method. PayPal also offered itself up as a way to grow internationally; 97 percent of freelancers had domestic clients, but just 58 percent had clients outside the US. That means an opportunity to grow not only for freelancers, but also for PayPal.

Speaking here as a freelancer who has been  paid by paper check for much of my career, it’s not hard to prefer PayPal. The problem is that many places refuse to use PayPal outright, having grown accustomed to paper check payments, regardless of the effect it has on the freelancers. If PayPal wants to make itself the new payment method of choice for the freelance market, it doesn’t need to convince freelancers. Freelancers will be more than happy to get paid by a method that effectively allows the freelancer to get paid the same day an invoice is filed. It needs to convince those businesses that hire freelancers.

Getting these firms on board with PayPal will not only improve the environment for freelancers, but it should also simplify things for those who hire them as well. The fact that it will provide PayPal with a whole new market to work with, meanwhile, certainly couldn’t hurt either, and may well help replace the upcoming loss of eBay business.