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Brief Published: 16 Nov 2020

Banking Start-up Caters to Growing Freelancer Community


Due to the pandemic’s economic upheaval and normalisation of remote working, the number of Americans going freelance is up 22% from 2019, according to US freelancing platform Upwork. Cue a new wave of investment in freelance-focused concepts, such as banking app Lili.

  • The Future is Freelance: Upwork’s study, published in September, reveals that freelancers now represent 36% of the US workforce – that’s two million more people than last year, when freelancing was already on the rise (see The Brief). Their numbers are expected to swell further: 58% of America’s non-freelancers say they are currently considering going freelance in future, after experiencing more flexible work set-ups during lockdowns. 
    It’s driven in part by economic instability under Covid-19 and the resulting lack of permanent job opportunities, which is especially affecting young people. Consequently, consumers aged 18-22 make up the majority (50%) of US freelancers. 
    For more on new-era attitudes to work – including employees’ desire for greater choice and autonomy – see The New Rules of Work
  • Investors Get Involved: Lili, an all-in-one banking app designed for freelance workers, raised $15m in its October funding round. Transactions on the app have soared 700% since the pandemic began, and nearly 100,000 accounts have been opened since its launch in 2019 (TechCrunch, 2020). 
    Features of the app include the ability to set aside a percentage of income for taxes, and early access to direct deposit payments. It also provides users with quarterly income and expense reports, and the ability to make financial transactions via Google Pay.