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TraQiQ’s leading-edge technology is helping drive the Gig economy forward

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TraQiQ’s solutions have been deployed with leading multi-national customers around the world and are helping increase customer loyalty, improve profitability and drive efficient financial transactions

The Gig economy has become a focus in recent years as working patterns shift and companies and people take on more flexible working conditions due to digitization, a phenomenon that has been accelerated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Gig workers are independent contractors and temporary workers who enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company’s clients as opposed to traditionally employed workers.

One firm which is working to embrace the Gig economy is . (), a global technology company with a suite of products designed to offer a comprehensive set of services that enable customers to meet their goals in a dynamic global technology environment.

TraQiQ’s leading-edge FinTech and AI (artificial technology) and ML (machine learning) solutions have been deployed with leading multi-national customers around the world and are helping increase customer loyalty, improve profitability and drive efficient financial transactions.

TraQiQ has a global presence with offices/customers in Asia, North America, Africa and Latin America and its leadership and advisory team includes people with deep experience of running large businesses as well as successful entrepreneurs.

One of those successful entrepreneurs is its CEO, Ajay Sikka, who Proactive sat down with to find out more about the company.

Proactive: TraQiQ describes itself as “a leading provider of FinTech solutions for the gig-economy”, can you explain what you mean by this?

Ajay Sikka: There has been so much conversation in the last few years about FinTech, with companies chipping away at the monolithic banking system. There are so many trends, but the one that I like the most is the one that puts the customer at the center. And it’s not just FinTech standalone. It’s about other trends together with FinTech that make the customer happy.

These trends, such as AI and ML help us predict their requirements. FinTech is an enabling technology that helps put the transaction in place, but you’ve got other important trends like blockchain that provides the next level of security and so on. So, what we’re trying to do at TraQiQ is look at a scenario where we are building a product stack that brings these FinTech solutions to the masses.

We use our strength in working with the Gig economy to enable a lot of things. We have a wallet, we have our settlement engine, we have our own workflow engine, meaning that we have a complete software stack. And this software stack enables customers to manage tasks. You can take our software, and you can manage your 5 people, 500 people, 5,000 people.

More importantly, we also have a network of over 14,000 people in India who are actually doing deliveries. So, we get this beautiful combination of the FinTech tools, the wallets, as well as the actual gig workers, the actual task workers who bring these two things together … going into the field, collecting cash payments from a variety of customers. 

So it kind of brings these two worlds together, these two worlds that are colliding. And that’s kind of what we are enabling today.

The company is focused on three primary pillars designed to help identify customers, facilitate transactions, and fulfill those transactions. So can you tell us more about that?

Our company is very heavily focused on these three areas. The first one, being very customer-centric, is to really understand your customer: What they want? When do they want it? How do they want it? There are so many dimensions to our customers which means we have a complete suite of AI and ML tools that help us understand a customer’s behavior, the transactions they are doing, how they are doing them, and when they’re doing them.

The second is our FinTech stack that enables a bunch of transactions. This could be for customers who have bank accounts and credit cards, and for customers who don’t. We have tools that enable you to make a payment via a text message.

The third and final pillar is our last mile pillar where we facilitate deliveries and tasks where we’re a combination of Uber Eats, Doordash and TaskRabbit. If I look at the service we provide, our people in India are probably the most proficient at doing deliveries and tasks in the area of finance, banking and insurance.

But we also do a variety of other services such as background verifications and address verifications. We also work with real estate companies to help their tenants in a variety of tasks.

TraQiQ has also been building blockchain-based solutions to leverage that super-secure infrastructure for more complex transactions. How is that progressing?

We all agree about the power of blockchain. We talk about security and microtransactions, and the technology prowess is amazing. But there is a second dimension as well and that’s the people part of it.

If you look at the data, 44% of gig workers are university graduates; 28% of them are professionals, they are lawyers and accountants and so on. I believe about 60%-plus do it to generate extra income to support their lifestyle. There is a lot of data on these people because this is such a high-growth element of our ecosystem today.

When all of it started it was really good because all these venture-funded companies were getting a lot of money to these task workers coming into the network. However, if you talk to these people there is a lot of angst. They don’t really make as much money as they were supposed to, with people in regular jobs making more.

So these are the areas of blockchain I think that really needs to get highlighted, not just the secure network.

Why do I need an Uber or Lyft or Doordash, if I can build a suitable blockchain solution that means the actual nodes of the network can interact amongst themselves, and make that extra 30%-40% of money. So from our perspective, we look at both sides, the security and all the other technology benefits as well as the people benefits.

So how does blockchain help us? It helps us from a hiring process. If people have all their credentials and certifications on a blockchain, as we do each and every transaction, we can validate and make sure it’s all good. That way our customers or partners or employees, everybody gets paid rapidly. And then there’s also the whole notion of sharing money equally. So we are very, very committed to the blockchain platform.

We actually built a wallet a couple of years ago and we are rearchitecting some of the components of our product stack right now. We are well on that journey and we’re hoping that before the end of the year that we’ll be making an announcement where we can start actually bringing them into our core production products.

The company has a goal of getting to a $20 million-plus run rate in revenue this year, through both organic growth and strategic acquisitions. So, is more M&A imminent?

Yes, we have demonstrated that we are keen on adding companies to our portfolio. But it’s not just pure acquisitions. If you look at organic growth first, we announced in our Last Mile business a couple of weeks ago our growth in the verification segment, where our task workers physically go to locations and verify whether somebody does live or work there. We are going to be adding a couple of more segments in the near term in our Last Mile business.

Similarly, in our Loyalty and Rewards business, we have added a couple of very large, multinational customers where our products have gone live and we’re waiting to make sure everything goes well, and will be talking about those as well. So there’s a fair amount of organic growth in our core business.

However, if you look at the three pillars we just talked about, I expect us to make a couple more acquisitions. Some of it is about adding new technology, new products to the mix. But we’re also very keen on adding significant new revenue streams. Our current focus is emerging markets and we’re hoping that we can add new geographies to the mix.

As of now, it does appear that we will be able to get to our $20 billion run rate, or better perhaps, by the end of the year.

So what should TraQiQ shareholders expect from the company in the near term?

Our company is continuing to grow rapidly and our growth is, very specifically, in the three areas we’ve talked about, which is in Analytics, to target the customer, in FinTech, and then Last Mile delivery. This growth will continue. It will continue to be a very focused set of parameters that we will deliver on.

We’ve talked about our revenue numbers. We’ve not talked about profitability, but it’s coming, it’s coming very soon, and we expect to be profitable in the short term to near term. The area that I’d love for our shareholders to see is new geographies, new revenue streams, new product bundles. This world that we live in is innovating so rapidly, there are so many new things happening, that it’s critical that we not stop that process.

COVID impacted us in many ways, however, we were fortunate that we were able to continue our revenue growth, with not very much of a hit to expenses. Our employees were fabulous, they stuck with us through many of the challenges.

So going forward, I expect acquisitions; I expect better revenue; I expect us to hire a lot more people as we build out this business rapidly. In the world of technology, our employees are the most important element outside of customers. So we will be talking more about what we’re doing with our employees. We’ll be talking more about the social benefits that our company is helping with. And I think, lastly, over the course of the next 6 to 12 months, we’ll also start talking about the profitability goals that we have, not just revenue goals.

Contact the author at jon.hopkins@proactiveinvestors.com

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Workers

Gig Apps Hustle for Top in Provider Rankings

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Got a gig? No? Well, go and get one. The apps are there if the will is strong. 

Looking at PYMNTS’ latest Provider Ranking of Gig Apps, it appears that not only are gig workers gigging, but they’re also switching up platforms, seeking faster routes to better placements. 

That’s how it goes in the world of what some call a “side hustle” and others just call “work.” 

However one views it, gig apps are on the move — and that means we are too. 

The Top 5 

Taking it from the top, DoorDash keeps its seat at No. 1, having just inked a reseller pact with United Natural Foods to provide on-demand grocery delivery services to independent retailers. 

Uber Driver is catching up at No. 2, now testing a program in Brazil letting customers pay more for shorter delivery windows. Sounds promising. 

As is its custom these many months, Instacart Shopper sticks at No. 3, fresh from its acquisition of smart cart creator Caper AI. 

Here’s one of those changes we mentioned earlier. The Amazon Flex app gains a spot and moves up to No. 4 this cycle in another win for the diversified eCommerce titan. 

Down a spot to No. 5 (but staying in the Top 5 nevertheless) it’s the Fiverr app, which launched a subscription program for freelancers on the platform a few months back. 

The Top 10 

There’s no lift for the Lyft Driver app this time out as it stays put at No. 6 for another cycle.  

Somehow we don’t see Lyft staying out of the Top 5. Guess we’ll find out. 

The Upwork app keeps its gig as custodian of the No. 7 spot. No change there. 

Another shift to report, this time at No. 8, as the Freelancer app gains one chart position. It’s a good get for the Australian crowdsourcing marketplace website. 

Meanwhile, Grubhub for Drivers drops one chart position to No. 9 this cycle, as apps in this category deal with disruptions in major cities around food delivery under pandemic mandates. 

Rabbits run from predators — and some from hard work — but not TaskRabbit, keeping its cozy warren at No. 10 for another cycle of the Provider Ranking of Gig Apps 

That’s a wrap. Don’t gig too hard out there.    

——————————

NEW PYMNTS DATA: DIGITAL BANKING STUDY – THE BREWING BATTLE FOR WHERE WE WILL BANK

About: Forty-seven percent of U.S. consumers are shying away from digital-only banks due to data security worries, despite significant interest in these services. In Digital Banking: The Brewing Battle For Where We Will Bank, PYMNTS surveyed over 2,200 consumers to reveal how digital-only banks can shore up privacy and security while offering convenient services to satisfy this unmet demand.

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This company is turning gig workers into gig economy shareholders

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As gig economy companies like Uber continue to bring in more money and users, the rising tide has not lifted all boats.

In the last quarter, rideshare and food delivery companies raked in the revenue: Uber brought in nearly $4 billion; DoorDash accrued $1.24 billion; Just Eat Takeaway, which owns Grubhub, made $884 million; and Lyft generated $765 million. But where is that money going?

According to Matt Spoke, CEO of gig economy fintech provider Moves Financial, a lot of it is being spent on drivers, but not in the way you might think.

“[Gig companies] lose hundreds of millions of dollars just on the back of losing workers all the time, churning out of the gig economy,” Spoke told Modern Shipper.

With companies hemorrhaging money on drivers only to see them leave because they feel they aren’t being paid enough, neither gig employers nor gig workers are reaping the full potential benefits of the gig economy. Moves Financial wants to change that.

The company recently announced an initiative called The Moves Collective that will reward gig workers with shares of stock in the very companies they work for, aiming to give them greater leverage in their workplaces.

In addition to rewarding gig workers with a monetary benefit, Moves Financial will give them the power to influence the gig economy platforms they work for at their annual general meetings (AGMs).

“The premise of our business from the very beginning was to figure out how we can step into what seems like an increasingly hostile gig economy and try to find ways to rebalance the economic alignment that seems to be missing between the workers and the marketplaces that they work for,” Spoke explained.

An amplified voice

Spoke recognized a concerning trend among gig employers: low worker retention. Two years ago, when he founded Moves Financial, he noticed that gig workers had a shockingly high turnover rate — as high as 500% for some companies, compared to an average of 3.5% for employees in traditional workplaces.

Initially, Moves Financial was a personal finance platform for the gig economy, but as Spoke recounted, “The goal has always been to sort of evolve that towards something where we can actually meaningfully make a difference in the way that [gig workers are] viewed.”

As he sees it, the way to do that is by giving gig workers a tangible stake in their companies. Gig workers have been up in arms over what they describe as unfair working conditions, staging strikes and protests in order to get employers like Uber (NYSE: UBER), Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) and DoorDash (NYSE: DASH) to listen. Gig workers, who are classified as independent contractors under U.S. labor laws, are denied the protections extended to employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as a minimum wage.


Read: Instacart shoppers plan nationwide strike for Saturday

Read: What would a vehicle mileage tax mean for ride-share?


“Petitions and protests and walkouts are not necessarily the most effective way to get Uber to change their strategic priorities,” Spoke said. “But if you show up as a group of shareholders and serve the demands, as such, there’s a greater likelihood that these become priority issues.”

Despite protests, gig companies spent millions pushing forward the passage of California’s Proposition 22, which exempted rideshare companies in the state from AB5. That allowed them to continue to classify their workers as independent contractors and deny them the benefits of employee status.

Spoke said that although some companies like Uber and Lyft have seriously considered awarding stock to their workers, their independent contractor status has been a major impediment.

“If [Uber and Lyft] wanted to do more proactively for their workers, that would be used as ammunition against them to sort of write the case of why they’re acting and behaving like an employer,” he explained. “So if Uber started issuing stock to its drivers, they’d have a really hard time making the case that they are not employing these drivers.”

He also points out that the vast majority of gig workers spend their time on multiple apps, and gig employers may not want to award them stock if they also work for their competition. That’s why Moves Financial is doing it on their behalf — the goal is to help the companies by helping their workers, which would reduce turnover and put the companies on the path to profitability.

“If we can address some of the root issues of why the group is unhappy, then we expect that leads to a more loyal, durable, long-lasting workforce that Uber doesn’t have to spend money replacing every six months,” Spoke said.

Gig workers are making Moves

Right now, gig workers that have a Moves Financial profile, earn more than $500 and drive or deliver for Uber are eligible for the program’s soft release (the company is starting with just Uber as a test). But with the full release, which Spoke says will happen by January, all Moves Financial customers will be able to opt in and receive stock from other platforms.

In its current form, The Moves Collective has two main components. The first is a set of “tasks” that customers can complete in exchange for a reward denominated in company stock. For example, one task is to earn $5,000 on gig economy apps over 90 days, for which a user will be rewarded with $50 in Uber stock.

The second component is a brokerage account that holds the stock for the user. For every user of The Moves Collective, Moves Financial goes through the legal process of creating a brokerage account, which would give workers legal ownership over the stock and the ability to sell it or move it to a different account.

Spoke clarified that Moves Financial is not a trading company and that customers cannot use money in their bank account to buy stock. Rather, the initiative rewards the user with the shares for completing various tasks.

But the other, equally important component of The Moves Collective is a mechanism for communicating with gig company executives. According to Spoke, Moves Financial owns and is currently growing “significant stakes” in Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Grubhub (NASDAQ: GRUB), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) — which has its own gig worker platform, Amazon Flex — and Target (NYSE: TGT), which owns Shipt.

In doing so, Moves Financial gets a seat at the table — it can submit materials to gig companies’ AGMs as a shareholder.

“What we can then do, in the process of editing those materials, is we can inform our users and inform gig workers in general about the submissions that we’re doing,” Spoke explained. “And the proposals that we’re putting forward, the nature of the submissions that we will work on, will be informed by feedback.”

Spoke emphasized that The Moves Collective will not submit proxy materials on behalf of its gig service workers. Rather, Moves Financial will submit its own independent materials with input from its users and other gig workers. But eventually, Spoke envisions the workers themselves having a larger voice.

“All of a sudden, gig workers, in theory, as they earn their stock, can actually show up to AGMs, they can vote on issues. They’re not necessarily going to carry the heaviest weighted vote. But the very fact of showing up and having a voice changes the dynamic of the conversation pretty dramatically.

“‘One thousand Uber drivers protest in New York City by not driving one day’ is an interesting headline,” Spoke continued. “I think it’s a different headline when we say, ‘One thousand Uber shareholders are demanding change from their company.’”

That could redefine the gig employer-worker relationship.

“We’re really leaning into this idea that gig workers are going to be motivated to join a movement of similar people that live a similar lifestyle and earn their money in a similar way, and that as a group, we can start to influence the way the economy functions,” Spoke said. “The gig economy, to date, has just not had a coordinated group of gig workers speaking as a unified voice. And that’s what we’re trying to build.”

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Payfare to Integrate with Plaid to Enable Digital Financial Services for the Gig Economy

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TORONTO–()–Payfare, Inc. (TSX: PAY), a leading fintech powering instant payout and digital banking solutions for the gig workforce, today announced it is integrating with Plaid, a data network powering the digital financial ecosystem.

Payfare powers faster, digital payments for some of the world’s largest on-demand platforms. In addition to instant access to earnings, its offerings also include full-service digital banking apps and payment cards with cash-back rewards and more.

Plaid enables consumers to connect financial accounts at over 11,000 institutions globally and more than 5,500 apps.

Payfare’s integration with Plaid will streamline onboarding for Payfare users by allowing them to swiftly and securely connect their account to the apps and services of their choosing. Payfare also plans to leverage its Plaid integration to enable new banking features and credit products that are currently under development for launch in early 2022.

“The expansion of our platform to include open banking is part of Payfare’s strategic growth plan to deliver new offerings to gig workers while opening up new revenue streams for the Company,” commented Marco Margiotta, CEO and Founding Partner of Payfare.

About Payfare (TSX:PAY)

Payfare is a global financial technology company powering digital banking and instant payment solutions for today’s gig workforce. Payfare partners with leading platforms and marketplaces, such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, to provide financial health for their workforce.

For further information please visit www.payfare.com.

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