Gig economy workers’ preference to be paid digitally and transparently has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic for a significant change on that payment front, according to new research by Payments Canada, a Canadian payments processing and settling company.
Mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay were most preferred by gig economy workers, with 49% using them in the last month to accept payments, the study published on May 28 said. Acceptance of cash payments still remains high, with 22% preferring accepting cash, with only 19% preferring check payments, the research stated.
One in ten Canadians are employed as gig workers and nearly 37% of the businesses in the country employ gig economy workers, according to the Payments Canada research. Some studies in recent years have indicated 25% to 35% of the U.S. workforce were "engaged in non-standard, or gig work, on a supplementary or primary basis."
According to the Payments Canada report, 45% of the surveyed gig workers expect payments to be made electronically while 34% expect payments to be made the same day.
The study included workers in rideshare jobs, freelance writing, delivery services and contract work. The Payments Canada research surveyed 1,500 Canadian adults, as well as 509 Canadian businesses.
“Approximately 40% want to see improvements in the way that they're paid,” said Ryan Grundy, who leads industry relations at Payments Canada. “There are really two key things that gig workers expect when it comes to getting paid, and that's getting paid quickly, and also transparently," including identifying where the payment came from.
Although gig workers expect to receive payments securely, quickly and transparently, for “one in five Canadian gig workers, it currently takes at least a couple of weeks to receive payment after their contract is done,” the research stated.
“Your average gig economy worker isn’t someone who may have sort of vast cash reserves, [so] there's obviously a tremendous benefit for gig economy workers to receive payment as soon as possible,” Grundy said during an interview.
The research may apply to the U.S. gig workforce as well. Some of the findings in the Canadian research were similar to those from an April study produced by two companies, Marqeta and Branch, that provide payment services to workers and companies in the gig economy. They surveyed 1,000 gig economy workers in the U.S. in various lines of work.
The need for faster and transparent payments to gig economy workers is bound to increase when finances get tight, Grundy explained. Post-pandemic, the expectation of such payments will stick and might dictate their preference of work, he added.
“Given the significant loss in hours available at many jobs throughout the pandemic, many employees have turned to gig and contract work to quickly boost their income,” Branch CEO Atif Siddiqi said in an April press release that accompanied his company's survey results. “Workers already limit the number of platforms they use, so ones that can offer faster, flexible payouts at no cost will gain the greatest competitive edge.”