By Espie Angelica A. de Leon
Optimism is high among Filipino freelancers as far as their online careers are concerned, even more so than their Southeast Asian contemporaries, said global fintech company PayPal.
In a survey conducted in October 2017, more than 86% of participants said they expect more freelance projects in the future. Forty-six percent revealed that their freelance business is stable while 23% said that theirs is growing steadily.
These data were among the survey findings outlined in the PayPal Global Freelancer Insights Report Philippines which was presented to the media on March 27 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.
“These illustrate the positive sentiment around the future of this industry,” said PayPal strategic partnerships head for Southeast Asia Abhinav Kumar who discussed the report in detail.
Conducted by PayPal and independent research firm Netfluential, the survey examined freelance job markets in 22 countries including the Philippines which has an increasing number of millennials.
More than 500 current and wannabe freelancers or considerers participated in the Philippine survey. Of this number, 34% were into data entry and Internet research, 13% were virtual assistants, and 8% were into customer service.
With its 1.5 million freelancers, the country figures in the list of top freelance service providers in the world relative to country population at 2%, according to data by the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Based to the report, freelancing as a choice of career offers multiple benefits to its practitioners. Of those surveyed, 58% revealed that they like to freelance because it allows them to work anywhere while 45% said it allows them to work anytime.
Thirty-nine percent said they opted to freelance because it gives them the chance to become their own boss while another 39% reported it is because they earn a bigger income. On the other hand, 35% answered that freelancing makes it possible for them to choose their work assignments.
Other reasons cited were the non-existence of office politics and company bureaucracies, decreased time spent on commuting, the opportunity to choose who you want to work for and to collaborate with other freelance workers.
Nine out of ten Filipino freelancers are below 40 years old, most of them female, and 90% have been freelancing for a maximum of five years.
Sixty percent of their client base is from the United States, followed by Australia with 29%, United Kingdom with 26%, and Canada with 20%.
Meanwhile, 84% of those with mostly foreign clients are using a freelancer platform, the most common being Upwork, Freelancer, and Shutterstock.
When it comes to receiving payments from overseas clients, 86% are using PayPal and 33% are resorting to bank transfers. Four out of ten use an invoicing software for billing purposes, with 93% in particular making use of PayPal’s invoice service to receive payments from overseas.
Asked about the reasons for their choice of payment method, these top five factors came up in the survey: security, ease of withdrawing money, speed in receiving payments, the brand being a trusted one, and ability to accept foreign currencies.
Meanwhile, merchants or the clients themselves have named PayPal as their platform of choice to pay their freelancers around the world.
Not everything is rosy though as 43% of those surveyed admitted to not having been paid for their services once or twice. Fifty percent, however, have not experienced being unpaid.
Nevertheless, the freelance economy is slated to continue its uptrend, with one out of five workers by 2020 expected to be a freelancer.
“Freelancers are a significant part of the Philippine population today. And millennials are embracing the gig economy like never before. We have been looking for ways and means to continue to add value to the segment,” said Kumar.
These include the rollout of solutions like PayPal.Me for Business which provides greater security and protection and PayPal Business app which helps users to better manage their businesses and view their clients’ history while on the go.
PayPal has also embarked on collaborations with GCash and PayMaya in the Philippines to deliver better services.