By Victor Agreda
The gig economy is booming. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s no denying this. Last year, Intuit said the gig economy comprises 34% of the workforce. That is, about a third of all workers are now freelancers. By 2020, that number is expected to be 43%, or nearly half the workforce! Most of that economic muscle is out there every day hustling for gigs and saving for taxes, health care and other expenses and they’re doing it online. This means they’re moving fast, and balk at dealing with middlemen like PayPal or other services that take a cut of their money. Some services make you wait a few days before you see your money. This opens the door for delivering wages via cryptocurrencies, which is lightning fast and could even gain value over time — something useful when you’re not part of a company’s 401k plan.
Lower costs for money transfers and remittances will be the subject of a future article.
Both employers and freelancers can save money when the cost of transferring and converting cryptocurrency is less than the price of a wire transfer. Just focusing on freelancers, there are a number of other advantages when it comes to accepting crypto as payment.
- Speed — getting paid can happen immediately without waiting for a check in the mail or a wire transfer to go through.
- Many cryptocurrencies (bitcoin being most notable) are accepted globally.
- Crypto has security baked in — although news like this makes the industry look a bit vulnerable.
- Crypto’s global acceptance makes value transfer more manageable, making your work and your life more portable. This is something freelancers crave.
- The peer-to-peer nature of crypto appeals to freelancers who want a decentralized method of earning — it’s all about freedom and choices!
All of this is also an obvious opportunity for matchmakers to connect job hunters with those looking for freelance talent, and allow them to get paid. One good example is Bitwage, which launched in 2014 as a Bitcoin payroll service, but wound up retooling to address the large number of international users. Thanks to crypto, payroll became a little easier and paying out in the currency of one’s choice became a lot more important. Just two years ago, Bitwage had paid out over $4.5 billion. The company offers a fast turnaround, and clients don’t even have to use Bitcoin themselves. They can simply route money to a bank account, and the next day the appropriate amount of Bitcoin arrives in the freelancer’s wallet. This is fast and easy, and usually avoids the high fees associated with international currency exchanges.
Even though Bitwage has been in business a while, this sort of innovation is still relatively new. But as the gig economy grows, and crypto continues to evolve and expand, there’s little doubt of seeing more services like this launch as demand increases over time.
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