As millions of people are staying at home to minimize the spread of COVID-19, gig workers have become a crucial lifeline delivering food and other supplies to people living in self-isolation and lockdowns.
The coronavirus pandemic has put gig workers in a vulnerable situation where they have insufficient personal protection and lack financial protection due to the unpredictable nature of their jobs.
In partnership with APEC Malaysia 2020, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the Financial Innovation Gig Economy Challenge was launched last March to call for the submission of innovative solutions to improve the financial health of gig economy workers.
UNCDF received more than 100 submissions from around the world, and ultimately 10 teams were chosen to participate in an intensive, eight-week bootcamp and innovation programme. During this programme, they learned about the concept of financial health and the circumstances of gig workers in Malaysia. They applied a human-centered design process to their proposed solutions and received mentorship from experts across industries as well as engaged with relevant industry players from Malaysia.
During the final pitches, an esteemed panel of judges selected the top three solutions that would receive further support from UNCDF to pilot their solution in Malaysia to reduce the economic risks of gig workers and improve their labour mobility. The three selected solutions are PAY:WATCH, Versa and GetHyred.
PAY:WATCH partners with employers and banks to provide workers instant access to earned wages, in real time, before pay day. By providing gig workers with access to low-cost financing from major reputable banks, they never have to turn to informal lenders again.
Versa is a digital cash management platform that provides returns on par with fixed deposits, but with similar liquidity as a savings account. This helps gig workers get the best out of their idle cash responsibly without reducing liquidity.
GetHyred is launching ZassS marketplace to match young gig workers to income-generating opportunities. ZassS is an addition to their existing skill-building platform that encourages young gig workers to develop a variety of skills and expertise.
UNCDF continues to offer “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. Helping to improve the financial health of gig workers will go a long way towards contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Gig Economy Challenge is funded by MetLife Foundation through the i3 (Innovate, Implement and Impact) Program.