CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

Gig Economy: Digital Platforms and Instant Payments Open New Roads to Financial Security


The rise of the gig economy has transformed work for millions of individuals. From freelance creatives to ridesharing drivers, gig workers are pursuing financial independence on their terms, redefining the traditional notions of employment.

However, achieving financial security in a flexible work environment can be challenging due to inconsistent income and complicated tax and benefit systems, posing significant hurdles for gig workers today.

In this dynamic landscape, traditional financial institutions (FIs) have struggled to keep pace, leaving a void that FinTech firms, platforms and smaller banks are now trying to fill.

Take Robinhood, for example. While traditionally associated with stock trading, the firm has recently launched a retirement savings plan tailored specifically for gig workers who may not have access to traditional 401(k) options or corporate matching programs.

“A growing number of people are moving away from the usual 9-5, shifting towards freelancing and side hustles to make a living. But traditional systems haven’t caught up,” the company said in a Feb. 28 press release announcing the new program, “Robinhood Retirement for Independent Workers.”

Set to launch this month in collaboration with three major gig economy companies: Grubhub, Gopuff and Taskrabbit, the deal will see independent workers associated with these firms enjoying an enhanced match ranging from 1% to 3% for the first year as well as gaining unlimited access to financial counseling services via a financial wellness partner.

Another key player in the rapidly expanding ecosystem of gig work-related financial solutions is Wingspan, which offers a comprehensive platform for managing payroll, benefits, and taxes. The all-in-one platform provides a centralized hub for automating tasks like billing clients and handling worker payments and keeps track of finances, including receivables, payables, and expenses for clients.

Additionally, Wingspan comes with a built-in business bank account as well as a Wingspan Wallet debit card which clients can use, both virtually and as a physical card, to cover business expenses.

Meeting Gig Worker Needs Not a One-Size-Fits All Approach

Financial institutions (FIs) like 1166 Federal Credit Union (FCU) have also stepped up to offer financial services to support the growing gig economy workforce.

Among these offerings is access to emergency funds, a key resource for gig workers who often lack traditional benefits such as sick leave, insurance, or job stability. “These funds are specifically designated to cover the expenses of unexpected events such as job loss, medical emergencies, or car repairs,” the bank said in a post on its website.

In addition, 1166 FCU extends a range of personal loan options at competitive rates that align with gig workers’ budgets.

Overall, these solutions and services offer promising avenues for navigating the gig economy while striving for financial stability in non-traditional employment settings.

However, these solutions are not without limitations. For example, while Robinhood’s retirement offering may provide an accessible solution for some gig workers, the requirement for wage income to contribute to its IRA retirement program can pose a hurdle for many independent workers. Essentially, it excludes those whose income are primarily from non-wage sources, making retirement investing a challenge for them.

Therefore, as the gig economy continues to evolve, solutions providers must address any gaps and adapt to meet the diverse needs of this growing workforce, bearing in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to suffice for those operating within the gig economy.