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The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a revolution in the workplace. Many businesses are permanently shifting to remote working, and seizing the opportunities presented by a decentralized working model. For companies, that means a smaller cost footprint, and a more global pool of talent to draw upon.
For workers, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends such as the move towards digital nomadism, the rise of side hustles and the rapid growth of the virtual economy. With the easing of restrictions has come an explosion in pent-up pressure as workers abandon employers who refuse to adapt to this new way of working, in what's been termed the Great Resignation. A quarter of the global workforce considered changing employers in 2021, with the resulting exodus of undervalued staff being dubbed the Great Resignation.
These dissatisfied workers are demanding flexibility; more than half (54%) of employees globally would consider leaving their job post-COVID-19 pandemic if they are not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work, according to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey.
“We’re seeing a broader global shift in how people think of work,” Ivan Hong, content lead at crypto payroll platform Request Finance, told Decrypt. “A lot of people that are working remotely are also working multiple jobs because they now have the freedom to do so.” An October 2021 survey by ResumeBuilder.com found that as many as two-thirds of remote workers in America hold multiple jobs.
This increasingly flexible, global workforce still needs to be paid—meaning that employers will require reliable, cross-border, and mutually accountable payment systems. And with the emergence of the virtual economy, a growing number of workers expect those payment systems to integrate with the booming cryptosphere.
“A decentralized workforce naturally requires more agile, borderless payment methods,” Estella Shardlow, Senior Editor, Consumer Attitudes & Technology at trends intelligence firm Stylus, told Decrypt. “This isn’t only about bypassing the costly, slow traditional intermediaries, but also dealing with different taxing structures, insurance and benefits across jurisdictions.”
Crypto by Request
Enter Request Finance. The startup, itself a remote-first company with team members based in Singapore and France, is quickly becoming a one-stop-shop for companies using crypto to manage their financial operations and accounting, across different types of business transactions ranging from invoicing to payroll.
One of the major problems companies have when dealing with their crypto assets, is the difficulty of accounting for the transactions made. Strings of hexadecimal wallet addresses with no easily identifiable counterparties, the lack of accompanying paperwork, on top of constantly fluctuating prices and gas fees make accounting in crypto an administrative nightmare.
Time for another monthly update on the usage metrics for https://t.co/e7nWaG7QNB 🧵
1/ $161m in cumulative #crypto payments made in November for invoices, salaries, expenses, and token prize disbursement 🚀 pic.twitter.com/i2YbDeenCV
— Request Finance (@RequestFinance) December 8, 2021
That’s where Request Finance’s platform comes in, allowing crypto-native companies like The Sandbox to easily create, send, and pay invoices or payslips in crypto.
Built on the protocol’s blockchain, users have full control of their data, while the technology allows for radical transparency in payroll, recording all ingoing, outgoing and outstanding transactions on an immutable ledger. On top of this, Request Finance can also automatically sync crypto transactions on its platform, with existing enterprise accounting tools like Xero and Quickbooks.
Request enables companies to use cryptocurrencies to avoid the inefficiencies and expense of making payments in fiat currency across global borders—a move that will appeal to the new wave of distributed workers.
Users select a—typically fiat—currency to invoice in while payments are settled in the cryptocurrency of their choice. The service is affordable too; clients pay a 0.1% transaction fee, capped at $2 total. According to the company’s monthly report for December 2021, stablecoins like USDC and DAI were the most commonly used currencies, accounting for 24.2% and 18.6% respectively of the nearly $170m in invoices paid in that year alone.
Its first product, Request Invoicing, is soon to be joined by an array of new features including Expenses, Payroll and Accounting tools—all of which are currently in beta testing, and likely to be progressively made available for users over the next year.
Creating an adaptive payments platform
As of November 2021, Request has over 1,000 companies and decentralized autonomous organizations () using its payment functions. "Reaching 1,000 is proof that we're building something people want. We're proud to be working with major players in the web3 and metaverse industry, and we aim at reaching 50,000 web3 builders and creators within 2 years," said Christophe Lassuyt, co-founder of Request.
Honored and proud to reach over 1,000 businesses in just over a year of launching https://t.co/e7nWaG7QNB 🥳
— Request Finance (@RequestFinance) November 30, 2021
Request Finance’s appeal lies not only in its utility but also its adaptability across a wide variety of companies looking to manage payments and accounting in crypto. “From hackathons, to managing payroll for remote teams, to marketplaces, all of our users find their own use case for the platform,” Hong explained.
MakerDAO is one such member that uses Request Finance to keep track of payment progress, as recorded on the protocol’s blockchain. "Request gave us more transparency into payment statuses across the organization," said Amy Jung of MakerDAO. "On top of that, email updates ensure invoices are automatically followed up—a time saver for us."
“Using Request is an easier and less error-prone way to manage crypto payments in different tokens,” added Frederic Meyer-Scharenberg of the Swiss Blockchain Hackathon, which used Request to distribute crypto prizes for the 2021 edition of the event.
As Request-supported payment options continue to expand (users can process transactions in 40+ and cryptocurrencies, and 10+ blockchains and fiat currencies), its promise of financial flexibility is sure to attract even more members.
“Demand for crypto payments is being driven by the rapidly growing small and medium businesses sector,” Shardlow told Decrypt. “For these companies, the merchant fees, exchange charges and delays of SWIFT et al—not to mention the risk of credit card fraud—can be crippling. Crypto and blockchain present a suitably fluid, secure cross-border solution.”
Fixing outdated financial frictions
Request Finance deftly tackles stumbling points typical of the traditional global payment system. In particular, small businesses and freelancers often face the challenge of chasing down payment for invoices—and the pandemic has only increased the incidence of overdue invoice payments. In America, a conservative 71% of invoices are overdue. By contrast, after a year of operation, Request reports that only 31% of invoices had not been paid by their due date.
Thanks to its first product, Request Finance, users can monitor the status of their invoices sent on the Request platform, which automatically sends payment reminders, and flags late or missing payments which also count towards a payer reputation score. Automatic verification of invoice payment statuses via the blockchain also removes the need for awkward follow-up emails.
“Request users can see the status of the invoice that was sent; whether it's paid, whether it's approved, or whether it's ignored. Both parties can see that record, creating a pressure to pay outstanding invoices,” Hong told Decrypt. Providing payment accountability will be vital to winning over members of the global virtual economy.
Since its launch, Request has processed over $170m of crypto invoices and is on course to be a key player in the growing crypto payment space. In the words of Hong, “Crypto is no longer just a speculative asset class, but a global payments tool that is enabling new ways of working, and doing business.”