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The growing gig economy, and what that means for electronic payment

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Millions of Americans have jobs with little security, no benefits and irregular pay — and they love it.

The gig economy is a booming business model that has changed the way employees make money. Gig work translates entrepreneurial spirit into earnings with no strings attached —

whether that is to break into a new field, earn extra income for saving and investment, or make some weekend spending money.

Nearly a third of the working population have a gig, according to Investopedia. Either as a primary means of income, or as a supplementary job, gigs allow flexibility in employment for a generation characterized by adaptability. This model is especially attractive to millennials looking for exposure in a new field, or those turned off by the strict structure of a traditional working environment. Gig work is a break from an employment system that situates workers in one spot, and allows for a self-regulated balance between life and work. Many new to the workforce shop for careers through gig work — marketing soft skills in various industries, and dipping a toe, before committing to a career.

The gig economy is the Wild West of labor: skilled workers matched with those that need a one time job. And like a cowboy, gig employees are unfettered by a contract — they get in, do the job and get out.

“A gig describes a single project or task for which a worker is hired, often through a digital marketplace, to work on demand,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means a gig can be anything: a short term job, self employment, on-demand work through a mobile app, etc. This flexible definition has utility in any industry. Various work resides under the umbrella of gig economy including independent artists that sell their work online, web developers, journalists and ride-sharing drivers. Demand exists in nearly every field, and gigs allow workers flexibility and variety in employment options.

This model makes sense for employers too. Communication software and online collaborative tools have made it easy to work remotely or from home. As the need for office space dwindles, many employers turn to independent contractors to perform specialized tasks from home to save on building costs. Hiring freelancers saves on training, benefits and makes it easy to cherry pick candidates for specific skills.

This is good news for employees and employers; a win-win situation. Employees have agency when it comes to hours, location and work — while employers enjoy the financial benefit of hiring freelance workers.

A study by Intuit predicts nearly 40 percent of American workers will be independent contractors by 2020. With the growing gig economy on the horizon, employers must consider a payment option tailored to this flexible model. A workforce uninhibited by industry norm has come to expect payment as instantaneous as their work. Electronic payment options are a must in the gig economy, since gig work is not beholden to a regular schedule; on-demand work calls for on-demand payment.

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