I am convinced that freelance and gig work are the most misunderstood terms in Asia. Through my time interviewing many different freelancers and hearing their stories as well pitching to banks and investors — the great divide has become very apparent.
Myth 1: There are very few freelancers in Asia
65% of the freelancers on the top 4 professionally skilled gig platforms like Upwork, Fiver, Freelancer and Toptal come from Asia . The trillion dollar flexible workforce economy is run by engines of growth that sit in Asia. Many of our own institutions in Asia are unaware of this seismic contribution that Asian talent has on global economies.
Myth 2: A freelance career is temporary
Freelancers value freedom, autonomy, variety and challenge — they are paving new paths. They are micro entrepreneurs who have mastered amazing skill sets of great value and contribution. All the freelancers that we have spoken to take immense pride in the work that they do and enjoy the flexibility that project based work provides. No, freelancing is not a hobby — this is a common misperception.
Myth 3: Freelancers barely make ends meet
In most countries across the world — freelancers on average earn more than the average workers across numerous payment data and industry comparisons . Flexible work breaks mental models of a world where outsourcing was only meant for non lucrative work. Digitisation, increasingly agile corporations, highly skilled talent, developed tools for remote work have all built the perfect platform to let microentrepreneurs shine.
We have met and spoken to stellar individuals with amazing track records and reputed happy customers. All these achievements in freelance and yet ask a freelancer in Asia about how they feel when they apply for a loan and they will let you know that they have never felt more excluded. Stories of being regularly turned down by loan providers and credit card companies are a frequent part of conversation.
Has traditional banking failed freelancers and gig workers?
Absolutely. Bankers believe all the myths about freelance — what a pity.
Banks love income predictability and regularity. But the people that actually need credit do not fit within the neat boxes of 9 to 5 jobs and the humdrum of bad office coffee and the monotony of a salaried job. This leads to the big lending gap. Banking in Asia needs to add colour to the stereotypical and highly unrealistic image of the struggling freelancer.
Friz wants to solve exactly this problem and allow freelancers the access to finance that they have very truly earned and deserved. We are working tirelessly to build a solution that celebrates the art of freelance — join us by being a part of our waitlist at www.usefriz.com.
If you are a freelancer who has a story to tell about your experience with banking or just wants to chat — drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the fintech revolution!