The sharing economy’s next major frontier may be moving, especially as younger consumers shy from hiring full-service firms that can push relocation costs over $10,000. Offerings pairing individuals who want to quickly and affordably complete housing transitions with those looking to make extra cash could ease these moving frustrations.
Many freelancers are younger and can be impatient if forced to wait for payments for their work. Giving ad hoc movers seamless, mobile access to wages is thus critical to building and maintaining working relationships, and this is why gig economy moving platform Bellhops facilitates direct deposit payments through its mobile app to its workers or “bellhops,” Luke Marklin, the company’s CEO, told PYMNTS in a recent interview.
“[Gig work is] obviously an area of our economy that is growing a lot,” Marklin said. “I think it is here to stay [and such work] is becoming a very good way to supplement your income. People love the flexibility and the supplemental income, and the more that companies are able to expand the work offering and give [them] even more money, people will take it, because they would prefer to be their own bosses and set their own hours.”
Making sure freelancers are using one platform rather than a competitor’s pushes businesses to constantly innovate offerings, he continued. This includes monitoring the payment solutions workers want and prefer.
Managing Payments For The Next-Gen Freelance Economy
Handling payments with ease has allowed Bellhops to build better relationships between its workers and its moving clients as movers can focus on providing better customer service without late or missing wage frustrations. The company’s application and background check processes for new freelancers are fully digital, and clients can access their movers’ profiles and backgrounds before they meet in person at their homes. Staff members also call to establish informed relationships with clients before jobs begin.
The company has worked to make payments to its bellhops as seamless as its customer experience. Bellhops pays workers through direct deposit for the jobs they completed the week prior, and the company payment cycle is simple enough to be managed through a mobile app. Ad hoc movers directly connect the app to their bank accounts and Bellhops uses a third-party payment provider to transfer funds every Thursday, Marklin said. The company’s bellhops seem largely satisfied with direct deposit, but simple mobile payment support may not be enough to stay competitive as this type of work becomes more attractive to individuals who need extra money.
“The No. 1 thing that bellhops want above and beyond fast payments is more and more work,” Marklin said. “We have continued to expand how bellhops can make money on the platform by opening up new services and giving new roles on the job for bellhops, and we have seen earnings not just per hour go up [but also] continue to rise year over year.”
The company takes a tiered approach, allowing individuals to take roles other than lifting boxes, such as driving moving trucks or serving as the “captain” of a moving team. Payments remains a priority for these workers no matter the role, and Bellhops will keep an eye on solutions to make sure freelancers remain satisfied — particularly with methods’ speed.
“The other opportunity is obviously with speed and flexibility, and we certainly are going to be [looking for] more ways to do that and to provide payments in faster time frames — even to the point of same-day,” he added. “Those are all things that are on the road map that we are exploring.”
Freelance workers are always looking for ways to access money faster, too. The value of instant payments is familiar to Marklin, a veteran of rideshare service Uber, which has offered its drivers access to an instant payment wallet for its wages since 2016. Bellhops is currently considering adding such a feature but has no formal plans to do so.
The Need For Seamless Cross-Border Payments
The company does have several plans to extend its platform over the next two years and expand into new markets, however. Marklin noted that Bellhops will look to launch in Canada by the end of 2021, for example.
“We are in 42 of the major metro [areas] in the United States,” he said. “We should be in the top 50 by the end of this year and we intend to be international, as well. So we will continue to expand. The one thing that has been clear in every city we have launched [in] is that the problems in moving are generally the same: The status quo is generally the same in New York City as it is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and … we see [moving processes] being [in] the same condition as we expand internationally as well.”
Creating a presence in international markets will likely be critical for Bellhops and other sharing economy companies as work for a global population of digital freelancers continues to evolve. These platforms must remember that payments need to develop alongside them, however. Freelancers are beginning to expect quicker and more convenient payments in all markets and firms that cannot pay workers with speed and efficiency may find themselves boxed up and left behind as their gig workers permanently relocate elsewhere.