PODCAST: Cross-border Payments for the Gig Worker

by PaymentsJournal 0

gig worker

The following is a transcript of the podcast episode

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

Welcome to the PaymentsJournal podcast. I’m your host Ryan Mac. On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking with Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay, about the Digital Women Survey conducted by Transpay. Peter, welcome to the podcast.

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

Thank you, Ryan. Happy to be here.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

Why don’t you give us an introduction to Transpay and its role within the payments industry?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

I sure will, Ryan. Transpay, is a payout company. We handle mass payouts for enterprise companies to make cross-border transactions globally for whomever they need to pay. Think of us as the accounts payable for a large marketplace, for a development company that needs to hire offshore workers or has an offshore payroll, or an obligation and voice offshore. We handle collecting those funds for those companies and in a mass distribution way paying people globally. In our specialty, we focus a lot on emerging markets, so we dig deep there. That’s the core of what we do. We feel really fortunate that we were able to partner with the Business Council for International Understanding to get this survey done.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

How does Transpay differentiate itself in making those payments in the marketplace?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

Transpay has built a proprietary network, a direct-to-bank network. So we have bank relationships all over the world, directly relationships that we own, so we are able to process in the same time, the same day to real time, directly into about 90% of global bank accounts. We can bypass middlemen and know exactly the rates and fees. And so there’s no surprises in our service. It’s “What you see is what you get” as far as pricing goes. Funds end up in the person’s bank account very, very quickly and exactly what they expect.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

Transpay published its Digital Women Survey, which assesses the benefits and challenges faced by women using online platforms to engage customers in other countries. Why did you conduct this survey now, and which findings were the most compelling?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

We decided to do the survey now as the digital economy has been growing hand over fist with freelancers and developers globally in a cross-borders scenario. We wanted to dive in deeper as we feel that in certain countries, there is less opportunity for women to have substantial roles in the workforce. We wanted to dig a little deeper and compare that against a survey that we compiled in the U.S. as well to be able to compare against the U.S. workforce. We thought the timing was good due to the growth that’s happening in this space. I think the most interesting things that we found in the survey were that 97 percent of the women freelancers in the U.S. and 67% of those in India identified the digital channel employment as a beneficial source for their financial well-being, so they view it as important for them to be able to get ahead. I think another one that is particularly interesting is that 40 percent of Indian respondents cite the ability to earn more via the online channel than they have as opportunity within country. So by outsourcing or being hired by an outsourced opportunity offshore, they are able to create more income for themselves and more fulfilling work that suits what they like to do.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

From the survey findings, what are the greatest challenges for these women, and how do you think they can be solved?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

Some of the biggest challenges — again, we’re a payments company and we’re focused on  paying people around the world, so we asked about their work experience — but we also dove deep on how they are paid. We really dug deep on the payout side of how they earn their money in a cross-border scenario. What we found was the biggest challenges from the survey we provide was that they’re being charged fees that they are potentially unaware of, and the timing of the transaction to them is longer than they would like. What we’re seeing is the money that they are earning due to the payment channels that are accessible to them are delaying the money getting to them, one. And two, the money that is received is less than the amount that they earned based on foreign exchange markups and/or multiple parties in the mix to actually get the payments to them. A lot of the survey asked about how they’re paid and how they would like to be paid. The interesting thing was that a lot of the women have said, preferably that they would like the funds directly into their bank account. However, zero percent of the respondents we happen to have in India actually got money directly into their bank account, and 30 percent, only 30 percent, of the U.S. women that were surveyed received direct-to-bank transfers. However, 40 percent had identified that as the primary way they would like to be paid.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

How do you see the freelance payments landscape evolving, particularly in India, over the next few years?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

Well, it’s been growing double digits over the last few years, and we expect that to continue. Women are more empowered than they have been in the past due to the digital economy opportunities that’s provided them. The cross-border payment volumes we see are growing to reflect the growing workforce that is being generated. It is an opportunity for a payments company like Transpay and others like us to fill. The long-term outlook for the cross-border payments space, when we asked, the respondents are less than optimistic. Only 13 percent felt that payments would become seamless in a real-time process, which does provide opportunities for companies like ours that do focus on products that make it more seamless and more real time. Conversely, 17 percent of the cross-border payments will be obsolete, replaced entirely with cryptocurrency, is what people believe. I think that that’s a fascinating statistic in an emerging market, where they believe that 70 percent of a Bitcoin or a blockchain type solution is the future for them. I would expect that percentage to be much lower, but we were surprised by that number.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

So now what recommendations do you have for women entrepreneurs or freelancers who are looking to get paid overseas?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

I think the key here is educate yourself on what’s available to you. They need to make sure that they understand all of the process of how they’re paid. So the flow, if you will. How does the money get to them? What are the options for them to receive the money? What are the fees that are involved across all of those? In particular, they should be focused on the foreign exchange if there is one (and obviously in India, there is), focused on how the FX is applied and what that is against all of the different methods that are made available to them. More and more merchants or people that are hiring offshore are offering people multiple ways to be paid, which is a good thing, a good evolution for the choice by that worker. However, all of them have unique and distinct ways that fees are applied and there’s lots of times, there’s lots of hops in the middle with intermediaries, and every time, it touches somebody, there’s nobody does anything for free, right? And so their actual net that they receive is impacted. So it’s people touching it as well as the foreign exchange that’s charged.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

You can’t really have a discussion about cross-border payments without talking about blockchain. So do you think that blockchain will play a role in improving payments for freelancers, for foreign-based employees? And is this new technology a challenge for many cross-border payment providers?

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

Good question. The technology is incredibly interesting. It is certainly receiving lots of attention in the press and by big corporations and banks that are looking at it as a future potential solution. I think it’s still quite early days. It’s touted as a secure way to process and streamline, and transparent and secure, and all these great things. I think ultimately it’s too early to say if blockchain will play a big role. It’s certainly something to watch. The reality is to establish a real international-scale cross-border ecosystem requires a lot of collaboration of policy within the governments. You need to have special talent to understand and distribute, right? So workers need to be educated on how to actually process these things. Central governments need to decide how they’re going to deal with things. And when we’re dealing with an emerging market, right now people are struggling just how to get normal fiat currencies into their systems with currency controls and are worried about the valuation of the currency. They’re not today focused at an emerging market country level on figuring out how blockchain plays for them. There’s a real concern over, if you don’t have something that fits more universally, how do you actually provide a universal solution? One country may say it’s a derivative, and one may say it’s actual currency, and one may say something else. How does a payment provider play in that space and stay compliant across all of the regs that will come out? And regs haven’t been drawn up yet. That’s where we sit today. It’s very, very interesting. It is a fantastic technology to look at to solve some of these problems, but until you get down to the governments figuring out how they’re going to deal with it, I think that’s the number one thing that’s going to delay. And banks traditionally won’t do anything until the governments through the central banks tell them it’s okay to. Then secondarily, there has to be a way, an easy way, for these workers to actually receive their funds. It’s great to get something in digital. But if you can’t convert it to fiat, where they can actually spend it easily within country to pay payroll, to get money, to buy groceries — those sorts of things — I think while it is incredibly interesting, it’s still a long way away until we figure all these things out.

Ryan McEndarfer, Editor-in-chief at PaymentsJournal.com

Excellent. Well, thank you Peter for taking the time today to speaking to us about the Transpay Digital Women Survey, and we hope to have you back on the podcast real soon.

Peter Shore, General Manager of Transpay

Oh, thank you so much, Ryan. I appreciate it.