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The Growth of Freelancing in the Wake of a Pandemic

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The Growth of Freelancing in the Wake of a Pandemic 1

Payoneer

The gig economy has shown significant growth in recent years as an increasing number of people have begun to consider a career in freelancing. Rapid changes in technology and workplace expectations have proven that there’s no longer a singular way to work and traditional employment models are just one of many options.

Earlier this year, freelancers worldwide found themselves impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which caused countries around the world to shut down and forced company employees to work entirely remotely.

To begin with, the pandemic had a negative impact on freelancers, with many companies pulling budgets and freezing both projects and any outsource hiring. As the pandemic has endured, however, the optimistic outlook of freelancers for long-term growth has proven to be reflected in reality and revenues begin to climb once more, reports Payoneer, a cross-border payments company.

It’s not just the freelance community that is noticing the growth either. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, leading marketplaces have reported a rapid growth in new freelancers entering the platforms, as well as steadiness in the demand for services from businesses worldwide.

“While the development of the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain and far from being over, we were encouraged to see that our marketplace was able to quickly rebound and resume growth”, said Micha Kaufman, Founder and CEO of Fiverr in a letter to shareholders.

A strong area of growth in this age of freelancing, and one that has seen rapid growth due to the current pandemic, is E-learning.

The Rise of E-Learning in the COVID-19 Era

While online education has been growing steadily in the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly paved the way for even stronger market growth. Social distancing measures and the sudden shift to quarantine has meant millions of people worldwide have had to quickly adapt to a new reality; connecting solely online in order to teach, work, and learn. Others found themselves out of a job and had to quickly shift gears to learn a new, digital trade.

Even before the outbreak, though, the E-learning industry was skyrocketing with the market expecting to reach an eye-watering $350 billion by 2025.

According to Payoneer’s report into E-learning, 74% of professional skills teachers and 73% of foreign language teachers joined the online education industry within the last two years, suggesting that the demand for E-learning has boomed in recent years, even before the pandemic broke out.

Interestingly, the earning potential is an attractive aspect that is drawing in teachers worldwide. According to the survey, 58% of foreign language teachers earn above $500 per month and almost half of these earn between $1,000-$3,000 per month. Depending where these online teachers reside, this level of income can offer a comfortable lifestyle.

As for those teaching professional skills, almost 52% generate income of $500+ per month, 21% earn between $1,000 to $3,000 and 8% earn even more.

Furthermore, when a staggering 90% of all e-teachers reported that they would consider making online teaching their primary source of income once the pandemic is under control and if demand exists, it’s clearly a sign that E-learning is an industry to be taken seriously by all.

Cross-border payments for freelancers

For companies, there are plenty of advantages of doing business with freelancers; they often offer lower rates as they have less overheads, they can be hired on a short-term basis and work flexible hours without the need for adding on payments for health insurance and other full-time employee costs, and they can offer specialized expertise on an ad-hoc basis.

However, despite all the benefits, many organizations have questions when it comes to using freelancers on a more regular basis.

One of the major issues for both companies and freelancers, especially those who have clients based abroad, is getting paid in a currency that is both convenient for them as well as their clients. With pools of talent often based in far flung places beyond a company’s geographical borders, the ability to access this talent is crucial.

The traditional banking system can be a challenge, however, due to slow and expensive methods of transferring funds in return for work done. In addition to the fees charged by banks (whether it be for credit card payments, wire transfers or ACH transfers), exchange rates can also significantly impact on the take-home earnings the freelancer receives.

The surge in fintech companies like Payoneer, indicate how much of a need there is to solve this problem and how these companies have been able to satisfy the demand from freelancers to be able to streamline their payments, at lower cost, and enable them to expand their business conveniently and effectively.

Online payment platforms provide companies with a secure and seamless way to make global payments to freelancers using a variety of methods. Helping to boost and make the freelancing economy more efficient is due to companies being able to pay multiple international freelancers at once while enjoying reduced processing costs due to increased volumes.

It’s clear, then, that the fintech world is heavily impacting on not only the traditional banking system but is also opening the world to freelancers by empowering them to grow their business beyond the borders they work in. It also seems that the current pandemic has acted as a sort of catalyst to an existing trend towards a more flexible working model, a model that promises a bright future for those currently on board, as well as those looking to kickstart a new and more flexible career path.

Business

Boeing planned to replace 777 engine covers before failures: WSJ

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Boeing planned to replace 777 engine covers before failures: WSJ 2

(Reuters) – Boeing Co was planning to replace engine covers on its 777 jets months before a pair of recent serious failures, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing an internal Federal Aviation Administration document.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday ordered immediate inspections of 777s with Pratt & Whitney <RTX.N> PW4000 engines before further flights, after an engine failed on a United Airlines 777 on Saturday.

The planemaker and the FAA had been discussing potential fixes for about two years, following an earlier incident in 2018, according to the Journal.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although immediate attention has focused on the engine’s manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, Reuters has reported that its cowling, or casing, is manufactured by Boeing.

Boeing has declined to comment on its manufacturing role and referred questions on the part to U.S. air accident investigators.

The inspections affect older 777s fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines. Newer models, mainly powered by rival General Electric, are not affected.

(Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Jane Merriman)

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GameStop rally builds after puzzling ice-cream cone tweet

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GameStop rally builds after puzzling ice-cream cone tweet 3

By Aaron Saldanha

(Reuters) – GameStop Corp shares surged more than 50% in early deals on Thursday as amateur investors jumped back into the stock weeks after an unprecedented short squeeze triggered a 1,600% rally in the video game retailer.

The latest moves build on Wednesday’s rally in GameStop and other so-called “stonks” – an intentional misspelling of “stocks” – favored by retail traders on social media sites such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets.

The new frenzy puzzled analysts, who had ruled out another short squeeze of the stock which had battered some hedge funds, and fueled more hype after some Twitter users pointed out a cryptic tweet of an ice-cream cone photo from activist investor Ryan Cohen – a major shareholder in GameStop and a board member.

A short squeeze takes place when the price of a heavily-shorted stock rises sharply, forcing short-sellers who had bet against the stock to buy it at those prices to avoid further losses.

GameStop shares were up 54.5% in trading before the bell at $141.70 at 0630 ET. Headphone maker Koss Corp surged 57%, while cannabis company Sundial Growers rose 10%.

Shares of cinema operator AMC Entertainment, another stock caught up in last month’s rally, jumped 17% in pre-market trading on Thursday following an 18.1% rise on Wednesday.

Reddit discussion threads were buzzing again about GameStop on Thursday, with members exhorting others to pile into the stock as the rally gathers steam.

“Bought lots more #GME today, let’s keep fighting !!,” wrote one Reddit user Fundssqueezzer, while another user Responsible_Fun6255 said, “Rise of the planet of the ape: GME edition”.

Earlier on Thursday, GameStop’s Frankfurt-listed shares trebled at one point, overshooting its 100% surge on Wall Street overnight, as European retail traders joined in the fresh buying push.

The sharp moves surprised the market, which thought the excitement behind the recent Reddit-fueled rally had died down.

RISKY BETS

GameStop shares skyrocketed in January as retail investors, urged on by popular Reddit forum WallStreetBets, bought the stock as a way to punish hedge funds that had taken an outsized short bet against it.

The squeeze “personally humbled” Melvin Capital’s Gabriel Plotkin, whose firm was left needing a $2.75 billion dollar lifeline supplied by hedge fund Citadel LLC’s Kenneth Griffin and Point72 Asset Management’s Steven Cohen.

The risky trading strategies employed by some traders on Reddit have drawn the ire of investing legends such as Charlie Munger, long time business partner of Warren Buffett.

“It’s really stupid to have a culture which encourages as much gambling in stocks by people who have the mindset of racetrack bettors,” said Munger, Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman.

GameStop’s U.S.-listed shares soared nearly 104% on Wednesday. The volatility in GME, AMC Entertainment and other stocks led to outages on Reddit and periodic trading halts by the New York Stock Exchange.

Online brokerage Robinhood said in a tweet that the NYSE action would impact all brokerages, but that it had not paused trading on the shares.

“It’s a pretty risky play to try and buy now … what we might (see) at the open of the cash market is some people trying to get in,” said Oriano Lizza, premium sales trader at CMC Markets in Singapore, which does not offer pre- or post-market trade.

The latest surge comes after a couple of weeks that saw the shares move in relatively tighter ranges.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Whatever happens resist the urge to sell. The longer we hold the higher it goes,” said @catchme1fyoucan, an Italy-based user of retail trading platform eToro, in a discussion on GameStop

(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Danilo Masoni in Milan; Additional reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani; Writing by Anirban Sen; Editing by Jason Neely and Bernard Orr)

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GSK narrows focus on elderly in trial to treat pneumonia from COVID-19

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GSK narrows focus on elderly in trial to treat pneumonia from COVID-19 4

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline will extend a trial testing an experimental rheumatoid arthritis drug on patients suffering from pneumonia related to COVID-19 to focus on the elderly as it seeks to firm up encouraging findings so far.

A trial started in May last year has shown that the drug known as otilimab helps patients over 70 with severe COVID-19 get off mechanical ventilation or high-flow oxygen support faster, the British drugmaker said on Thursday.

The benefit for younger trial participants was not clear enough to merit further investigation, prompting the re-focus on the elderly in a follow-up trial with a targeted 350 participants.

After 28 days of treatment, 65.1% of elderly patients on otilimab plus standard of care were alive and free of intensive respiratory support, compared to 45.9% of patients who received the standard of care alone, according to the trial results.

Effective COVID-19 treatments are still in high demand as vaccination campaigns are only ramping up gradually and as new variants of the coronavirus spread rapidly.

“Given the profound impact this pandemic is having on the elderly and the encouraging data we are sharing today, we are hopeful this finding will be replicated in the additional cohort,” said Christopher Corsico, GSK Senior Vice President Development.

GSK, which acquired rights to otilimab from German biotech firm Morphosys in 2013, said it expects first results of the extended trial in the third quarter of this year, to be followed by talks with regulators if the initial findings are confirmed.

Many patients with severe COVID-19 suffer from an over-reaction of the immune system known as cytokine storm and GSK aims to reaffirm that the drug, originally designed to fight an autoimmune disease, can help.

Attempts to repurpose existing drugs to rein in an overactive immune system in COVID-19 patients have had mixed results.

AstraZeneca’s blood cancer drug Calquence failed to help severely ill COVID-19 patients. Roche’s arthritis drug Actemra, in turn, was shown to cut the risk of death among patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19.

GSK, and other drugmakers, are also working on antibody-based drugs that block the virus directly.

GSK has also brought to bear its knowledge on adjuvants, which are efficacy boosters used in many vaccines, working with partners including France’s Sanofi.

In addition, it is collaborating with CureVac on a next generation of vaccines that protect against new coronavirus variants.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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