Challengers: Craig J. Lewis, GigWage

Written by Aadit Gandhi

Craig J. Lewis

Photo credit: Jae Oates

In this installment of the Challengers series, Aadit Gandhi spoke with Craig J. Lewis, the Founder and CEO of Gig Wage, about how Fintech can alleviate the payroll problems of gig economy workers.

Please tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in Fintech?

I started my career as a professional basketball player in Europe. When I married my wife and we decided to start a family, I got a sales job at NASDAQ: ADP. I instantly fell in love with the way people would get paid, and as a salesperson at ADP, I was one of the first to sell their cloud-based tech product. That’s when I truly realized the importance between tech and how payroll works. From there, I was hooked and knew these two components would have an indelible mark for the rest of my career.

What made you start Gig Wage?

The current 1099 payroll system as we know it doesn’t take into account how money moves throughout the entire gig ecosystem. Handling contractor payroll, payments, banking, and compliance is a unique and complex challenge that the traditional payroll system doesn’t address.

I initially conceptualized Gig Wage when I realized there was no practical payroll platform built specifically for the gig economy -- everything available was built with the traditional workforce in mind. And with how quickly this new economy took off in the past few years with the likes of Uber, Postmates, and more, it was clear something had to change – and fast.

Besides the inconvenience factor of not having an adequate payroll system for the 65-75 million people employed by the gig economy, many of these workers who typically are living off of each paycheck as it comes in are losing up to 20% because of unnecessary costs, such as fees, to receive the money quicker.

Gig Wage is now an efficient platform for both the employer and the employee.

What are some lessons you've learnt as a founder?

Everyone has been through something, and it's important to understand what someone has been through. That's reflected in one of Gig Wage’s core values – empathy. There are always things you can learn from other people — things they do right and do well, and things you can learn from people when things don't go well.

How do you see the payroll industry evolving over the next few years, and broadly the payments industry?

I think that we'll be seeing more Payment Operations as a Service (POaaS). Payroll companies focusing more on the critical developer resources of your core business and not building out payment infrastructure. The core business of Gig Wage is the POaaS to enable quick, easy, and flexible/customizable contradictory payments. We use POaaS in all of our products and services which allows Gig Wage to completely solve every pain point that companies may experience in payment operations.

Where do you think Fintech is going in the next 5 years, and beyond? What are you most excited about?

I think the concept of embedded finance has taken hold where every company in the future will have a Fintech component either to make their existing products stickier or to add additional revenue streams to their existing businesses. So, in the next five years I think we’ll see that financial services will be a part of every company’s products –not just banks, Fintechs, and traditional FIs.

What I’m most excited about is creating more access to financial services for everyone. Our purpose at Gig Wage is economic empowerment. As an industry I think we need to put more energy into building tools that give people access to basic financial services so that your average person can start to get ahead in life. Too many people are just struggling to scrape by and it doesn't need to be that way.

How would you say the evolution of the US Fintech market is different to the rest of the world?

I think it’s definitely slower in the US than in the rest of the world. The fact that we have a fifty-year-old rails system kind of says it all. For one, our regulations in the US are not as progressive as they are in places like Europe with Open Banking standards. Second, there are just so many large incumbents in the US that have an interest in the existing systems, it’s harder to make huge innovation gains here. I think we’ll see bigger technology leaps coming from places like Asia and some of the emerging markets where the existing financial infrastructure isn’t as deeply embedded.

What’s next for GigWage?

We have a bunch of news up our sleeves, most notably an upcoming pay card that we’ll be launching in the coming months to give contractors another way to get instantly paid through Gig Wage’s platform. More information can be found here, but keep an eye out for additional details soon.

I also recently became the spokesperson for GreenDot’s GO2bank card and was just accepted into the Rolling Stone Culture Council, an invitation-only network of industry professionals.

And what's next for you Craig, what are your personal and professional ambitions?

I’m looking forward to continuing to grow Gig Wage and I’m excited to continue to build out my portfolio as an investor in more Fintech startups.

Any parting words of advice for any aspiring Fintech entrepreneurs out there?

Go big. Go hard. Go for it.


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