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PayPal Releases Global Freelancer Insights
According to the EY Global Contingent Workforce Study[1], the gig economy is growing and by 2020 almost one in five workers will be contingent (freelancer or contract) workers. The market is ripe for opportunity, yet freelancers are still facing uncertainties like irregular income and not being paid by commissioners.
At PayPal, we recognize the challenges that freelancers face when they pursue building their own company, including the need for the right resources and partners to keep their livelihood afloat. PayPal customer data reveals that countries like the U.S., Germany, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Netherlands, Mexico, Poland, and South Africa are seeing significant upticks in freelancer payments.
Today, PayPal launched results from its Global Freelancer Insights Report[2] to take a closer look at the needs of freelancers in 22 markets. Here are the top insights about freelancers around the globe:
  • Mobile compatibility is key: Mobile payments, mobile apps and mobile communication continue to grow in importance and usage for freelancers. The freelancers surveyed cited having mobile tools, as well as the ability to invoice and receive payments via mobile devices as crucial in their on-the-go world.
  • Security is top of mind around the world: 47% of freelancers surveyed attributed security as an important factor when choosing a payment method.
  • Freelancers are an optimistic group, but irregular income is their biggest challenge: The majority of freelancers surveyed globally expect their business to grow in the future – especially in Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Mexico and Argentina. However, more than 50% of freelancers surveyed in Hong Kong, Russia, and South Africa said their biggest challenge is irregular income.
And while freelancers have similar preferences and challenges around the globe, each region’s freelancer market varies and has resulted in varied trends across the countries surveyed.
A recent LinkedIn study[3] predicts that 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by the year 2020. There’s no denying the uptick in freelancers and addressing their priorities will be important in the sustainability of the industry. U.S. freelancers are driving the global trends, and as a result, the U.S. freelancers findings will, in large, trickle into other regions. 
U.S. freelancers surveyed in PayPal’s U.S. Freelancer Insights Report cite security (44%) and speed (38%) as the top two criteria when selecting how they’ll accept payments from clients. As the most widely cited method of payment (70%) for U.S. freelancers surveyed, PayPal offers familiarity, and is a secure, fast, and easy to use payment method. PayPal use on mobile was also cited as a key feature. In addition, U.S. freelancers surveyed are the most satisfied with PayPal as the payment method their clients use. 
Three additional U.S. freelancer trends and opportunities include:
  • Opportunities to grow with international clients: Ninety-seven percent of U.S. freelancers surveyed have domestic clients, but only 58% have international clients. There is a lot of opportunity to grow international business, and freelancers can look to platforms to help with that. Platforms – especially those that integrate with trusted tools such as PayPal – can expand business globally and accept local currencies.
  • Payments come easy through platforms: Eighty-five percent of freelancers surveyed cite PayPal as the most commonly used way to withdraw funds from freelancer platforms they use, stating ease of use as the reasoning.
  • Use appropriate invoicing software: Half of U.S. freelancers surveyed have experienced not being paid, and 44% believe it is because freelancers are not taken seriously. Six in ten freelancers cited they use some form of account software to organize payments received and issue invoices. This saves time for freelancers to focus on the work they’ve been tasked with while also positioning themselves as a legitimate business.
As the gig economy continues to take shape and the freelancer market expands, PayPal will continue to be the partner in payments for freelancers to help grow their business.   
[1]An internet survey amongst workers who are in a supervisor role or above in a company with >US$100m turnover and >1,000 employees. 202 respondents were sourced from a panel provider, and 12 respondents were sourced from EY's contact database. The surveys were completed between April 20 and June 27 2016.
[2]Source: this data was from a survey commissioned by PayPal and independent research company Netfluential in October 2017. The online survey polled Freelancers (and those about to become freelancers) in local languages across 22 markets to understand what is important to freelancers in general, the tools and brands they use to do their work and how they get paid and move their money.

Melissa O’Malley, Director, Global Initiatives, PayPal

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