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Bridging the Gig Economy Equality Gap with Inclusive Financial Data Integration

February 19, 2024

  • APIs
  • Cash Flow
  • Data Security

By Ali Hamriti, Co-founder and CEO at Rollee

From food delivery drivers to freelance graphic designers, UK gig workers provide a diverse range of services to society that contribute to £20 billion to the UK economy. Despite their contribution to the UK economy, gig workers are struggling to access financial services to support themselves. This is due to the ongoing data disconnect that prevents financial services firms from accessing the necessary income and employment data of gig workers, – resulting in financial exclusion. Addressing these challenges within credit checks is critical for financial inclusivity and to support the development of a modern workforce.

Unpacking the data disconnect

Research from Rollee reveals that financial institutions are struggling to grant gig workers access to financial products because of a data disconnect in credit checks. Financial institutions are generally not able to see the full picture of a gig worker’s income and employment records. They are, therefore, more likely to approve applications from a PAYE worker. Of 503 individuals from financial institutions surveyed, just over a third (34%) said they are more likely to approve an application from a PAYE worker than a gig worker because they have greater transparency of their income and employment data.

Ali Hamriti_Co-Founder and CEO at Rollee

Open banking exhibits the potential to facilitate the secure sharing of financial data. However, its restriction to bank-based payment data is a drawback. Financial institutions require real-time, seamless access to diverse data sources through automated connections to various income and employment platforms.

Further bottlenecks and roadblocks are often encountered when financial institutions try to leverage and integrate data from freelance platforms and HR software through public APIs in-house. Similarly, engaging in discussions with platforms for private API access may result in rejections, and integrating multiple platforms poses a scalability challenge. This method requires substantial resource investments from the backend, data, and DevOps teams – hindering data-driven decision-making and growth. Indeed, the effectiveness is additionally constrained by the intricacies of the technology involved.

Emerging consequences on the gig economy

The lack of data accessibility has resulted in a detrimental impact on gig workers – specifically, the financial services they miss out on, such as mortgages and loans. Recent insights from our Gig Economy Equality Gap report highlighted that 70% of gig workers struggle to get approval to access financial services and that a third of UK gig workers have lost out on a new home due to being declined by a bank, building society or letting agency, despite knowing they have affordability.

66% of gig workers surveyed have been denied a loan, and 42% said that when they have been denied a financial service, such as a loan or mortgage, the financial institution has not provided a reason for the unsuccessful application. The impact of this example of financial exclusion is that it not only causes financial stress but also triggers workers to apply for three credit cards or loans before being accepted. While facing their disadvantages, some even consider traditional routes of employment – hence why the ongoing disparity must be addressed.

Integration is the way forward

Financial institutions must have a holistic view through a wider range of data with an overview of a worker’s income, employment status, and activity. The advantage of this overview is that data will be able to prove whether the gig worker has affordability and is able to repay. This is a fundamental part of the integration process.

Financial institutions must also focus on expanding integration efforts across markets through the help of an external API infrastructure. With that being said, integration is not the only key aspect moving forward. Another vital element is automation, which in turn will drive faster and more efficient results and will act as a gateway to easy, reliable, and fast access to income and employment data in real-time. The emphasis is shifted from time-consuming processes dealt with by internal tech teams to empowering the gig workers themselves to take control of their data while providing the tools to share financial ownership. This is the final frontier of open finance.

Bridging the data disconnect

Recognition of gig workers’ societal and economic contributions through data transparency is long overdue. This transparency would empower financial institutions to address inequalities faced by gig workers and level up access to financial services. It would also help expand their offers to a whole new audience that has been ignored until now because of the lack of transparent data and the inability to recover and verify the correct data. Investing in robust data infrastructure to facilitate transparency stands as the key to acknowledging, supporting, and addressing the financial inclusion needs of the dynamic and valuable gig worker sector.

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