Technology catches up with ‘generation freelancer’

The rise of generation ‘freelancer’ has been a marked aspect of the early noughties. Over the last 13 years the number of people reporting themselves as ‘self-employed’ in the UK has increased by 40 per cent and now represents some 10 per cent of the total workforce.

Although it varies from occupation to occupation, freelancers typically work longer hours, in higher skilled roles – for more pay –  take fewer ‘sickies’, and have stayed in self-employment for a longer period than before. In short, freelancers are becoming accustomed to their lot, and seem to be happier for it.

So, it’s little surprise that the technology market is beginning to design solutions aimed at further improving the lives of a highly mobile, responsive and tech literate workforce.

One of the main issues facing freelances – from boardroom to shop floor  – is getting paid. Despite the advances in modern banking, money still seems to travel extremely slowly. And that’s without mentioning the financial barriers should you dare to take on a contract from an overseas client.

In the US this week payment pioneers Square and Stripe have grabbed a few headlines for bringing to market new services that make it simpler for small businesses and contractors to spend and  collect.

All you do is set up a unique $Cashtag via Square’s app and you can begin paying as a business customer – mobile to mobile – at a 1.5 per cent per transaction rate, with ‘personal users’ charged nothing at all; the company has also developed Square Cash as a person-to-person mobile payment platform.

Stripe acts in a similar way, albeit for payments transacted over the internet, charged at a 2.9 per cent rate. Blogging platforms such as Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla can all use Stripe for invoice payments, ticket sales and physical goods sales. Crucially, both ‘disruptor’ technologies have no monthly service fees and only charge business owners when a payment is processed.

As people move increasingly towards novel payment solutions – in a bid to save costs and make it easier for both transacting parties – 2015 could well be the year which signals the switch to non-traditional forms of business and private banking.