The Gig Economy is Booming
There used to be a time when the freelance industry was deemed a last resort of sorts. Freelancing was something college students did to earn some extra money until they landed a job. People who were full-time freelancers were thought to be doing so only because they could not get a proper job. But things have changed and how! The twenty first century has turned out to be the golden era of the freelance industry. Recent studies have shown that 35 percent of the U.S. workforce earn their living by freelancing, and that number is expected to grow to a whopping 43 percent by 2020. The gig economy is growing by leaps and bounds, and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future.
The Appeal of Freelancing
As the acceptance of freelancing as a viable career has grown, so has the number of websites that offer freelancing opportunities. Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, Amazon Mturk etc. are just a few of the most popular freelancer platforms. As these platforms provide both freelancers and clients access on a global level, there’s no dearth of job opportunities.
The most appealing aspect of freelancing is the freedom it offers. As professionals now have access to a global market through the freelancing platforms, they have the freedom to decide what their time is worth, and more importantly, their schedule. No wonder people are jumping aboard the freelancing bandwagon in droves.
It ain’t All Sunshine and Rainbows
As with most things in life, freelancing too has its share of negatives. As it’s very hard for individual freelancers to tell genuine clients from fraudulent ones, the risk of getting scammed is quite real. This is where the freelancing platforms come in. They act as intermediaries between freelancers and clients, and ensures security for both parties.
The security isn’t cheap though. The commission rates charged by the freelancing platforms range from 10 to 20 percent. Even after paying such high commission rates for the sake of security, freelancers keep getting scammed by unethical clients who resort to fraudulent payments and even fake disputes to avoid paying any money.
But it isn’t that only freelancers get duped. Clients too get burned by scamsters who pose as freelancers with the help of fake reviews. Some freelancers never deliver even after receiving upfront payments. Some tend to deliberately delay projects, or ask for more money than was previously agreed upon. Such treachery by freelancers leads to clients losing money, as well as unfortunate delays in their projects.
Blockchain Comes to Rescue
Blockchain technology is exactly what the doctor ordered to solve the woes of the freelance industry. The following are the ways in which blockchain is going to affect the freelance industry.
Better Protection Against Payment Fraud
Using blockchain-based smart contracts can help to safeguard the interests of both the freelancers and the clients. In fact, a new freelancing platform named Coinlancer has already done it. Coinlancer is an Ethereum-based platform that allows to freelancers and clients to connect remotely through smart contracts. This ensures that both parties receive equal attention, unlike the existing freelancing platforms. Moreover, the efficiency and scalability offered by blockchain technology have resulted in a drastic reduction in the commission – 3 percent – instead of the exorbitant 15-20 percent commission charged by the existing platforms. With this delectable combination of low commissions and higher security against payment frauds and delays, it’s inevitable that more platforms like Coinlancer will come up in the future.
Blockchain-based smart contracts will also eliminate another menace of the freelance industry – spam and fake reviews. Smart contracts are stored securely in a trust network and so, they’re immune to being changed or hacked without alerting the rest of the network. This will allow the freelancers as well as the clients to rest assured that they are not getting duped, and focus on their actual business.
Switch on Investment Mode
Many freelancers already prefer to be paid in cryptocurrencies, and this trend is going to only increase with time. One key benefit of using cryptocurrencies that often gets ignored, is the change in perspective it elicits. Accepting cryptocurrency payments changes the focus of the freelancers from the usual salary mindset to an investment mindset.
Just like any other new technology, blockchain technology too offers freelancers the opportunity to specialize in a growing, lucrative field. In the coming decade itself, blockchain technology is going to create a lot of opportunities. Freelancers who are experts in digital contract systems are going to make some serious dough!