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Digital Payments Options Are Redefining The Freelance Lifestyle

Freelancing, contracting, ad hoc work — it’s all a grand adventure. Like trying to get paid, for example. Will they pay? When will they pay? How? It’s a nail-biter, but really shouldn’t be.

PYMNTS December 2020 Digital Payments In A Digital World Playbook, a North Lane Technologies collaboration, Global Freelance Workforce Edition, tackles the issue with insights demonstrating the value of faster payments to freelancers and the firms engaging them.

“The pandemic is not altering how freelancers and contractors operate or their long-term earning potential, but it has highlighted the need for businesses to streamline the ad hoc payments experience,” per the new Playbook. Not just domestically but cross-border as well.

“Ad hoc workers have long relayed the importance of being paid in their preferred currencies when working with overseas companies, with 67 percent of freelancers based outside the U.S. saying such payments are essential. Being paid in native currencies allows freelancers and contractors to receive their funds more easily. It also gives them immediate access to these funds to pay their own bills and make good on their outstanding payments.”

Of Platforming And Freelancing

While it’s actually a good time to be a freelancer, and with corporations taking an active interest in ad hoc workers, the Playbook notes that old issues still plague the ecosystem.

Growing freelance ranks “report familiar concerns even as demand rises … citing worries about being unable to save for retirement as well as frustrations with late, delayed or outright missing payments from clients” according to the Digital Payments In A Digital World Playbook.

Platforms are seizing the opportunity to serve the financial needs of ad hoc workers, both as job marketplaces and, in some cases much more, as payments bend to freelancer needs.

“Freelancers could solve some of those late payment concerns by finding their jobs via online freelancing platforms — many of which handle payments themselves and therefore grant ad hoc workers more time to find new clients or tackle other projects,” the Playbook states.

“These present their own challenges, however. Many platforms take a portion of freelancers’ earnings as their fees, cutting down on the amount of money workers actually take home.”

Faster Cross-Border Payments For Ad Hoc Workers

Freelancing for companies in other countries holds a certain romance for many freelancers — until they encounter the frictions of getting paid back home in their native currency. Between fees and FX, that ad hoc worker may very well end up with less than they contracted for.

That’s improving, however, as cross-border payments become safer, faster and more accurate.

“More and more [freelancers] want to be paid in their local currencies and they also expect these payments to be finalized swiftly. This represents an opportunity for businesses looking to expand their working relationships with freelancers or contractors, but these firms must first enhance the payment mechanisms they are using to deliver funds to these workers,” according to the Digital Payments In A Digital World Playbook. “Eighty-five percent of freelancers would pick up even more work if they were paid faster, but only 17 percent of companies reported having the infrastructure necessary to enable such transactions.”

The Global Freelance Workforce Edition of the new Playbook series concludes, “Businesses that want to expand the number of freelancers or contractors they are using must take careful note of how payment troubles could affect their abilities to entice and to retain ad hoc workers. Finding payment solutions that can address freelancers’ unique cross-border payments challenges is the next step for the businesses that employ them.”

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