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Gigs have come a long way since 1926. Back in America’s Jazz Age, the word “gig” was short for “engagement,” a specialized, time-limited job – whether that job paid a few bucks or thousands – booked by an entertainer for one or more nights. These days, gigs have a whole new meaning – and there’s good reason to take notice.

Nowadays, “gig” refers to jobs that most people can do and that lots of people need. If you’ve got a car and can give someone a ride, a spare room where a guest can stay, extra time for dog walking or errand running – then you can make extra cash in the gig economy. While many are happy to keep their gig work part time, there are those enterprising folks who make it a career. In one recent survey, 69 percent of gig workers said they would not give up their gigs for a full-time job.

The popularity of the gig economy is well worth noting.

· In a 2016 Mavenlink poll, 24 percent of Americans reported earning money from gig economy platforms.

· According to the Gig Economy Index for November 2017, gig economy workers were projected to account for more than $677 billion of total US income by the end of Q4 2017.

· According to recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, gig workers represent 34 percent of the workforce, and may grow to 43 percent by 2020.

· Half of all millennials work at least one part-time gig and 44 percent of gig workers receive 40 percent or more of their income from gig economy jobs.

People of all demographics choose to gig because it provides independence, experience, flexibility, and of course extra money. A company’s investment in the gig worker isn’t necessarily less than its investment in a traditional employee; it’s just different. The relationship between gig platform, gig worker, and gig customer is a bit like that of a retail corporation, branch merchant, and retail customer. Companies have to consider not only the worker’s experience but that of the end user. And high on the list of what’s important to both of those groups involves payments: paying and being paid securely and quickly; and transparency and flexibility throughout the customer journey, from first contact to payment.

There are three ways to instantly improve your relationships with gig workers and help them get the most out of your payments experience. And just as consumers do, gig workers look for speed, personalization, and added value. Let’s take a quick look at each.

PAY FAST With rapid gig economy growth, companies are still figuring out best practices for payments. Right now, 51 percent of gig workers are paid within a week, and 84 percent said they would do more gig work if they were paid faster – that’s lots of room to build speed, and a lot of incentive to do so. The next step for payments is to make real-time and same-day payments the new normal.

In terms of payment speed and value, American Family Insurance is one company doing the gig economy right. The company’s new venture, Moonrise, connects individuals looking for side work to supplement their income with shift work in administration, hospitality, and other services. Developmental research indicated that speed was a top priority for customers and employers alike, so a platform was built to enable gig opportunities to be pushed to interested individuals via text and to enable these workers to be paid as soon as they finish the job. The payment card provided by Wirecard enables workers to access the money they have earned within 24 hours of completing an assignment – without a fee. Having a same-day payment option gives individuals greater control over their finances and aligns perfectly with our core value of offering consumers flexible and secure solutions for cashless payments.

PERSONALIZE We can use payments data to look at how much, how, and when gig workers and their customers like to pay and get paid. Are gig workers looking to cash in immediately with a card? Or do they prefer ACH? The Ubers and Airbnbs of the marketplace can also look at end-consumer data to find out their preferred payment methods, usage patterns, and other factors; we can then use this information to create personalized services, offers, discounts, and more value-added solutions to help drive loyalty.

Moonrise, for example, can use smart data about payout amounts and the frequency and length of shifts to figure out which employers are most successful on the platform and create better matches. They can also potentially use brand individualization to influence their marketing, operations, and product development.

ADD VALUE Gig platforms are starting to differentiate themselves through payments. If a business can cover the cost of working capital, eliminate or reduce premiums charged for faster payment, give gig workers flexibility in how they get paid, and offer extra benefits and opportunities, it stands to win the lion’s share of the rapidly growing number of eager gig workers.

Wirecard is proud to partner with Moonrise to be doing all of this and more. We’re helping to ensure that workers have fast, easy access to their pay, and as Moonrise grows, so will our platform, with loyalty rewards programs and additional features. So in the year 2020, when nearly half of all workers are part of the gig economy, we’ll be ready.