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Moves Financial was scheduled to launch its suite of financial solutions for independent workers in the fall, but when the pandemic hit the company felt obligated to offer their services ahead of schedule.
Moves Financial, which was founded by a group of blockchain developers and emerging technology researchers, was getting ready to offer gig economy workers easy access to financial products later this year. They knew that such services were especially valuable to those with inconsistent incomes, as they are often denied access to traditional financial products.
That need was especially urgent in the spring, when the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a sudden and significant decline in demand for services like ride hailing.
“We were hearing from gig economy workers, and especially rideshare drivers, that demand had dropped by 80% overnight, and it was unclear if they were eligible for CERB or other subsidies being rolled out by the government,” explains Sam Pajot-Phipps, the VP of Growth for Moves Financial.
“There was this big financial gap people were facing, whether they had rent coming up or bills,” explains Pajot-Phipps. “It was really impactful, because we were able to help out a lot of people during that difficult time.”
Since the early launch date, Moves has rolled out two financial products for gig economy workers, with a suite of other financial solutions tailor made for this underserved community on the way.
The first is an unsecured personal loan that gives gig workers access to personal loans between $500 and $2,500.
“Being an independent worker is very unpredictable,” says Pajot-Phipps. “There can be challenges that you face in terms of income volatility or getting injured on the job, so we think it’s really helpful to provide these individuals with a backup plan so that if something does happen they can quickly access money in an affordable way.”
Pajot-Phipps adds that drivers often use the loans for car repairs in order to get back on the road quickly, or pay off high-interest debt they’ve acquired through other lenders or credit cards.
The second product the company has since rolled out is 0% interest E-Bike financing for customers based in Toronto, in partnership with E-Bike maker Amego.
Pajot-Phipps explains that E-Bikes are an essential tool for couriers, but their high cost can serve as a barrier to entry.
“We work with Amego so that we can provide them with financing at 0%, and if they’re approved they can go pick up the bike from the Amego office at Richmond and Portland once it’s available,” says Pajot-Phipps, adding that turnaround time can range from two days to a week and a half, depending on availability.
Customers can also choose between two different E-Bikes, and select between a number of frame and battery sizes.
Independent workers who have earned at least $500 using one of the 12 approved platforms in the past 90 days can apply for a loan directly through Moves’s website.
After selecting their desired product, members are asked to log in to their bank account. Both are available with no credit checks, no hidden fees and flexible payment terms; applicants are assessed based on spending habits, non-sufficient fund charges and average balance.
In most cases loans are made available within 24 to 48 hours, unless additional information is required, which can add another day or two to the approval process.
“Our goal is to demonstrate to gig workers and independent workers that we are a platform for them that cares about their financial objectives,” says Pajot-Phipps. “We don’t analyze our members by traditional indicators like credit score or penalize them for working on a platform like Uber or Lyft; that’s exactly who we want to help support, because we understand there’s a lot of challenges accessing financial products when you work through those means.”
Pajot-Phipps adds that in the future the company will use its blockchain technology to offer customers rewards for everything from taking out a loan to paying it back on time to referring friends to the platform.
“We can give that value back to our users, and they can use that asset in order to reduce their interest rate or for some type of discount on the product itself,” he says. “All of that we’re still working towards and figuring out, but the idea is to give some of that value back, similar to a rewards program.”
It’s just one of the many ways Moves is hoping to solve the financing gap that exists for independent and gig economy workers, who have long been shut out from traditional financial products.
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