Freelancing seems to be the new career of choice for some Americans. A recent study shows that people who opt for full-time freelancing has increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% in 2019. Freelancers represent a different host of fields, from writing to programming to social media management. However, one thing is in common between them – a difficulty in financing.
Experiencing difficulties in getting paid is very common for freelancers. Timings of payments, as reported by 59% of the freelancers, cause them trouble with their monthly finances. Untimely employer responses and sometimes even missed payments are also other factors. Banks have also fallen behind in keeping up with the growing freelance economy and the needs of freelancers.
“THERE’S THIS GREAT BIG AREA IN BETWEEN CONSUMER BANKING AND BUSINESS BANKING THAT FREELANCERS FALL INTO AND THE BIG BANKS AREN’T DEALING WITH THAT.”
“There’s this great big area in between consumer banking and business banking that freelancers fall into and the big banks aren’t dealing with that,” George Kurtyka of Joust explained. “They have strategies but it’s not really something they know how to do.”
Kurtyka is the COO and Co-founder of Joust, a financial services company operating since 2017. The company helps freelancers with which traditional banking cannot do for them.
How are they doing it?
A source told Kurtyka that 50% of freelancers don’t practice separating personal and business finances, thus he concluded that the best way to start was with bank accounts. This became the first product offered by Joust. The second problem was the non-payment issues. Joust’s business model works by offering guaranteed payment within 30 days for 1% of the invoice or instant payment for 6%. This factoring is done via its PayArmour product.
“It feels almost like an insurance product,” Kurtyka said. “When you send an invoice, we’re doing risk assessment on you, we’ve onboarded you and given you a bank account so we know about you.”
Joust partnered with Freelancers Union and has since then begun offering their banking, invoicing and alternative financing services not only to freelancers but also to self-employed people. They also have been looking to expand their products in the future.
“As you can imagine, we can start with just invoice factoring, but we can move into working capital and lines of credit … We’ve heard stories of freelancers losing houses and apartments because they were paid late. The next step is income smoothing. If you can predict how much you’re going to earn, we can smooth your income and then work with one of our bank partners to prequalify you for a loan. We’re obviously not a chartered institution but we work with a host of chartered banks and payments companies and we sit on top of them and the great news is we work with a lot of partners who want access to this burgeoning market of freelancers who may not qualify for a FICO score because their income is like this … Down the line we’d love to offer loans and mortgages. We think the underwriting models we’re building could be like the next FICOs for freelancers.”