Freelance jobs have been around for decades, but matching skills to needs, and workers to jobs, was slow and inefficient. Now, gig economy platforms offer a faster and easier way to match freelancers to a job. To be effective, these platforms must ensure trust and safety for both workers and job providers.
Here’s why: Workers need to know that they’ll get paid, that the job provider is legitimate and that the working conditions are reasonable and safe. Job providers must be sure that the worker can do the job, can be trusted to represent the company properly and will not steal or partake in any fraudulent or criminal activity. And as these assignments are often short and require quick fulfillment, marketplaces need to quickly and accurately vet the identities of different prospects and opportunities.
Thus, trust and safety is essential to the success of a gig economy platform. After all, if workers are worried they won't get paid, why would they sign up? Or if employers think they might end up hiring a fraudulent worker, why use the service?
Growth in the gig economy signals new opportunities for platforms
Statista projects that over half of all workers in the US will be freelance by 2027; that’s over 86 million people. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the number of freelancers even higher. An Upwork study revealed that about 10% of freelancers typically start freelancing within the last six months. The number of new freelancers jumped to 34% since the onset of COVID-19 in early March.
The surge in a remote workforce has blurred the lines between traditional, full-time employees and freelancers — creating more opportunities for gig workers. As the Upwork study writer Adam Ozimek noted, “With this steady supply of freelancers, we also see that on the demand side the businesses for whom remote work has gone best are planning to utilize more freelancers in the future.”
It’s true. As the economy starts to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, employers are likely to see tremendous value in hiring freelancers. Perhaps they don’t want to commit to a long-term position. Or, the budget isn’t there yet to afford a full-time hire. However, they’ll still need good workers to get tasks done and grow the business. Hiring freelancers provides a more flexible approach to getting specific work completed.
And as the gig economy reshapes the workforce, both freelancers and businesses will increasingly need a trusted source for fulfilling their employment needs. The opportunity for platforms to fulfill that need will also grow.
New services add value to the marketplace community
As the independent economy expands, we can expect more services to focus on the needs of the self-employed. Fintech companies can offer loans and other financial services to support a large number of customers who are underserved by traditional finance. Flexible office space providers can help workers share resources and provide social opportunities. Other freelancers can provide sub-contract work, or collaborate on larger projects to help these micro-enterprises grow themselves into significant entities.
With these value-added services, gig economy platforms can supply their freelance customers with capital, training and resources to grow their business. These tools also build loyalty, incentivizing participants to stay in the marketplace and not jump to a competitor. Not only does the marketplace offer a way to make money, but it also provides ways to grow and develop, while still retaining the benefits of working independently.
A fully realized freelance economy would allow almost anyone, anywhere, to find the work that best suits them and provide maximum value to the economy, and society, as a whole. While that is perhaps utopian, the capabilities of remote work, the network economy, new forms of business organization and other rapid innovations are creating massive opportunities for how work is done, and the effects could be staggering.
Building successful self-employment platforms with reliable identity verification
Whatever comes next for the gig economy, smart platforms will be at the center of it all. For any platform to truly excel, it will have to establish and maintain a stellar reputation for fostering trust and safety.
The first critical step is ensuring that all participants are credible; individuals must have their identity verified to establish that they are who they say they are, and businesses must verify that their business is indeed the legal entity they claim it to be. However, different economic sectors, different markets and different workers or employers all present varying risk profiles. To ensure trust and safety in every transaction, platforms need a holistic approach to identity verification and business verification. An identity verification network offers the proper level of assurance that each worker or employer is legitimate.
For example, onboarding a worker in a developing market may require additional verification than a worker in a more established country. The identity verification marketplace could orchestrate the various services and data sources needed to establish credibility, matching the level of verification to the risk profile. And, it could provide even more security checks as participants' use of the platform increases. This dynamic approach allows platforms to easily screen questionable participants while allowing good participants to quickly onboard — and maintain trust and safety throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
A gig economy platform is only as good as its reputation. That reputation is put to the test for every transaction and participant. An identity verification marketplace helps gig economy platforms ensure good workers and good employers around the world find each other.
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