Freelancing taking root in the Philippines – study

FLEXIBLE. More Filipinos are getting into freelancing after seeing it work out for others, according to PayPal's Global Freelancer Insights Report. Image from Shutterstock

FLEXIBLE. More Filipinos are getting into freelancing after seeing it work out for others, according to PayPal's Global Freelancer Insights Report.

Image from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – To a worker stuck in a routine 9-5 office job, the ability to create one's own hours and work from anywhere would seem like a dream.

Freelancing, wrapped up in the catch-all term "gig economy," has rapidly taken root around the world, driven by the explosion of the digital economy.

Globally, the gig economy is growing. By 2020, almost one in 5 workers will be freelancer or contract workers, according to a 2012 global study done by Big 5 auditing firm Ernst & Young.

Local gigs

The Philippines, with its sunshine business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, would seem like an ideal setting for the gig economy to flourish. And flourishing it is, according to the recently released Global Freelancer Insights Report by United States-based payment firm PayPal.

Part of a global report that encompassed 22 countries, the Philippine portion of the study surveyed over 500 freelancers and "considerers" in the country.

Of the Filipino respondents, 86% said they anticipate future growth in their businesses.

PayPal also noted that the Philippines has one of the highest freelancers per capita of the 22 countries surveyed, at around 2% of the population. This means that the country has an estimated 1.5 million freelancers, with women having the slight edge at around 65% of that figure.

The country's young demographics also plays a part in this, with around 75% of freelancers 24 to 39 years old, according to the report.

"The Philippines' freelancer market is a growing segment and is poised for further upsurge, with more Filipinos looking to getting freelance work from overseas," said PayPal Southeast Asia's head of strategic partnerships Abhinav Kumar.

Flexible working hours and the ability to be their own boss are the main draws, according to the report.

The main gigs are data entry/internet research at 34% of those surveyed, virtual assistance at 13%, and customer service at 8%.

Digital tools

Facilitating the trend is the growing number of digital tools freelancers need to bill  and receive money for their work.

Only about 63.8% of Philippine cities have a banking presence, which has led to the rise of the robust fintech ecosystem offering various payment and digital wallet solutions.

The country's two dominant telecommunications companies offer their own mobile wallet and payment services – Globe Telecom Incorporated with GCash and PLDT Incorporated with PayMaya.

PayPal itself partnered with the two in a bid to take a slice of the growing freelancer market.

According to the report, PayPal's own platform is the most used, with 86% of local freelancers claiming to use PayPal for receiving payments from overseas.

The report's results also showed interest among potential freelancers or "considerers," defined as those who do not do actual freelance work yet but expect to do so in the next 6 months.

A full 61% of "considerers" cited a belief in the increase of earnings as a primary motivation, while 51% reported thinking about taking the freelancing path after seeing others do it successfully. – Rappler.com