Thought Leadership

Five Key Insights on the Future of Work

TL;DRThe Earning Revolution is upon us. Hyperwallet’s SVP of Digital Markets explains how alternative earning has become mainstream, and what that means for future advancements, policy, and regulations.

For the payments industry, one of the most important and divisive discussions during 2016 was the future of work. The past years have seen rapid globalization and technological development conspire to dramatically alter the landscape of employment, replacing traditional work arrangements with new independent earning opportunities – for better or for worse. In payments, this shift has highlighted inefficiencies – in speed, optionality, support, and so on – that the industry is only now beginning to address. But the conversation extends beyond just earnings, touching on topics ranging from job satisfaction to career security and regulation. We find ourselves in both a promising and uncertain time: what creates anxiety for some presents opportunity for others.

2016 uncovered #payment inefficiencies that need addressing. - @tingmichael Click To Tweet

In November, I attended the Future of Work Forum in Washington, D.C. The event was organized by Village Capital, a leading investment firm focused on entrepreneurs solving real-world problems in sectors like financial inclusion, education, and more, and the Hitachi Foundation, which strives to improve the lives of lower-wealth Americans by supporting businesses that are creating opportunities for those individuals. The one-day event was a melting pot of policymakers, regulators, foundations, market research firms, and entrepreneurs, all of whom share the common belief that work – and income, benefits, skills training, and mobility – is changing.

Through the many topics covered, I came away with a handful of valuable insights:

1) The Model Has Become Mainstream

Alternative forms of work (or more accurately, income generation) – independent contracting or freelancing, leasing personal property – are becoming more prevalent. Importantly, so is technology’s role in enabling individuals to showcase and monetize their assets, particularly idle or underutilized assets like cars, homes, and free time.

2) Improved Matchmaking

Matching the right talent to the right opportunity has always been difficult and somewhat unscientific. More entrepreneurs (as evidenced by the showing at this event) are addressing this issue by developing platforms that assess the needs and skills of both the supply and demand side to find a match – effectively a marketplace model.

3) Disruption Won’t Wait

Policymakers will follow the lead of innovators. Policy will never be as fluid as the environment it’s intended to govern and support, and its inherent bureaucracy doesn’t serve the current needs of those who need the most help now. We need entrepreneurs to bring the solutions, because innovators don’t wait for the policy framework to take shape – instead, they work “outside the lines” to solve real problems as directly as they can.

4) Get Ready for Regulations

Regulation at every level will become a more permanent fixture in the future of work and income generation. The role of regulators to facilitate this future while protecting the interests of workers (particularly the disenfranchised) will become a more common topic of conversation. Licensing requirements and proper oversight intended to protect individuals will eventually cast its net to a broader set of constituents.

5) We’ve Entered an Earning Revolution

The traditional work paradigm isn’t going away – but in a world where the best career opportunities continue to go to those who are on the “inside track” while the rest scramble for a fragmented pool of jobs, there’s a call for innovation to connect people with alternative income opportunities. There is also a renewed priority among Millennials and Boomers alike toward seeking fulfillment and general happiness, which the future of work is also facilitating. The new and old models need to co-exist and individuals shouldn’t have to choose one over the other, but should have opportunities to participate in both.

The Future of Work is Bright

In speaking to a number of these entrepreneurs, it’s become clear that the primary success metric is not the number of users or revenue (albeit they are all for-profit enterprises, so those are still a priority), but impact. Just like dropping a rock into the sand, the heavier the impact, the more deeply embedded it becomes. And their ventures, many of which address a niche market or narrow use case, are very focused on making an impact on a specific subset of the worker community and the employers they are aiming to serve.

The upshot of all this is that work as we’ve traditionally known it is not static. Technology and problem-focused innovators are delivering solutions to enable more people to become active participants in the economy. The future of work will drive the future of how individuals earn income and how new and old businesses can create more opportunities for people to earn income. It’s hard not to believe that it can only result in a net positive change.

Payout platforms can be instrumental in unlocking new opportunities for billions of individuals. Click To Tweet

At Hyperwallet, we’ve been bracing for this tremendous shift. In our 16-year history, we have been squarely focused on helping companies deliver alternative forms of income to individuals beyond the traditional payroll check. By supporting companies and the individuals they pay to control how, when, and where those payments should be sent, payout platforms like ours can be instrumental in unlocking new opportunities and financial freedom for billions of individuals worldwide. In that way, the payments industry can help ensure that the future of work includes everyone, regardless of their worker classification, income range, or education level.

That’s a future worth looking forward to.

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