Regulations shaping the gig economy's future

The future of gig worker-focused fintech hinges upon the dynamic regulatory landscape affecting the gig economy writ large. From worker status to interest rates, a swath of legal and macroeconomic factors force fintechs serving gig workers to pay ongoing attention to lawmakers’ intentions and decisions.

Gig workers’ legal status

Perhaps the most fundamental regulatory uncertainty that affects gig workers—and the fintechs supporting them—is their legal status. On a state and federal level, platforms like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have spent millions on public campaigns and lobbying efforts to maintain gig workers’ status as independent contractors rather than employees.

But tides may soon be shifting. Last fall, the Department of Labor released proposed changes to worker classification. The proposed tweaks would simplify the path to full employment for independent contractors who are “economically dependent” on a firm. If more independent contractors became full-time employees, relevant fintechs would probably move further away from B2C models and dive deeper into targeting employers as pathways for growth.

AI and automation

Artificial intelligence can help maximize efficiencies by eliminating repetitive tasks—but it also risks causing mass unemployment, disproportionately among independent contractors and gig workers. The most robust proposed regulatory frameworks for AI and automation therefore prioritize safeguards for data collection and security while keeping an eye out for unfavorable macroeconomic effects.

A regulatory failure to keep structural unemployment in mind while building out rules for AI may force fintechs to leverage partnerships to assist users with job training, employment, onboarding, and wealth building over the long run.

Interest rates

Interest rates affect all of the economy—but gig workers are often at the front line of a slowdown, with consumers opting to skip on things like grocery deliveries via Instacart or paid household work via TaskRabbit. What’s more, full-time employees may see themselves converted into independent contractors in an effort to cut costs.

If interest rates continue to rise, gig worker-focused fintechs may expect to help their users even more with products like short-term loans to hold themselves over during tough macroeconomic times.