Gig workers and freelancers with a host of talents can utilize today’s highly-connected environment to offer their services to employers around world, rather than being limited by their geographies. Digital platforms fuel these connections by matching workers — graphic designers, translators, photographers and others — with prospective employers, while also helping them boost their professional profiles on a global stage. Employers can benefit from job marketplaces as well, as they are increasingly helping companies address their talent gap problems. Freelance job platforms are being used by more workers and employers alike and are expected to contribute $2.7 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
These marketplaces may have opened doors for millions of freelancers and companies, but there are still challenges that must be overcome. The parties rarely meet in person, presenting a trust issue that can become an even bigger problem when employers have to make payments across borders as payment preferences vary between regions. An employer based in the United States, for example, will most likely want pay for a job in U.S. dollars, while a remote worker in India would prefer to receive payment in rupees. One thing both groups can agree on is that they do not want to be surprised about the amount owed or the value of the payment received, which can erode trust.
Maintaining and building that trust is something that hiring platform Fiverr addresses by enabling payouts to freelancers (known as “sellers” on the platform) in their preferred currencies — something that is particularly important as the platform offers its services in 160 countries. Andy Schabelman, Fiverr’s vice president of international expansion, stated that boosting trust between both parties and the platform is an essential part of the company’s strategy.
“We want to facilitate trust and do whatever it takes to meet the [needs] of our users,” he said.
A Global Roadmap for Trust
Delivering on this trust is essential to Fiverr’s success as a company, Schabelman explained. Employers and freelancers are often located in different markets and operating using their own local currencies, meaning that both parties must be confident that they will connect with the correct parties and have smooth payment experiences.
Fiverr provides this by studying and understanding local markets’ preferences. The company ensures that payments are available to workers in the currencies they want most, resultantly providing it with insights into its users’ most valued operations, products, features and payment methods.
“In almost all of our markets, payment is one of the main mechanisms that … shows we care about the local market, and one of the initial ways to build trust with the local market,” Schabelman noted.
Employers (known as “buyers” on Fiverr) need to be treated with the same respect on the platform as freelancers. They need to trust that their needs will be met and that they will also have seamless payment experiences.
“The thing we also have to keep in mind is that we have a two-sided marketplace,” Schableman said. “We also have intricacies that involve being able to offer the [buyer’s] local currency, which can [sometimes] be different than the [seller’s].”
Addressing each group’s specific needs is key to Fiverr’s approach.
Building Trust From the Ground Up
Fiverr needed to obtain deeper knowledge of different communities and their preferred services to build a digital hiring platform that buyers and sellers can trust, Schabelman explained.
“Generally speaking, we take great care in trying to understand what our users’ needs are,” he said.
Fiverr took a boots-on-the-ground approach that enabled the company to better appreciate the frictions local users encounter. Schabelman believes companies that attempt to solve these cross-border problems without going to the market in question run the risk of overlooking significant issues and failing to deliver solutions their users need.
“If you work from a remote location, you might not fully understand the needs of users on the ground,” he said. “We take great care in trying to understand what our users’ needs are by getting deep into the community where the pain points are.”
Delving into its users’ communities help the company develop solutions that benefit users worldwide. A lesson the company learned about Germany’s invoicing problems was applied to the platform on a global scale. Fiverr’s invoices previously listed descriptions of gig assignments, but the service could not enable invoice organization by categories and subcategories.
“For users in Germany, this wasn’t sufficient [enough] to work [with] their invoicing systems,” he said.
Fiverr’s community approach will be vital for other companies and platforms as they pursue their own international expansion plans.
“The best way to understand a local market’s needs is to get in there, ask questions and listen to users and put people in the room who are prospective users,” Schabelman said. “Any great international expansion project has to have a component of listening deeply to user insights.”
Platforms need their users to trust them to be successful, and the most effective way to establish trust is to first take the time to listen.