Believe it or not, the gig economy now employs more than 1 out of every 3 Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll. But whether they’re driving for Uber, delivering for Postmates, or freelancing for a media publication, many gig workers don’t have access to employee benefits like health insurance, tax withholding, or retirement accounts.
That’s where Catch comes in — a new personal benefits platform with a slick mobile app geared toward contingent workers. Powered by BBVA’s Open Platform, Catch is fast becoming a one-stop financial shop for freelancers by replicating the services of a full-time employer.
“Catch is a really interesting business with an imminently qualified executive team,” says Susan French, head of products at BBVA Open Platform, a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform that partners with innovative companies like Catch. “The average consumer is more likely to try a new app when it’s backed by one of the top 25 banks in the U.S., so that’s what BBVA brings to a service like Catch [in addition to] our technology.”
As of September 2019, Catch offers three different savings accounts that automatically deduct a percentage of your paycheck, just like a full-time employer would: a tax withholding account, a time-off savings account, and a retirement savings account tied to a custom portfolio of stocks and funds. Finally, Catch lets you enroll in a variety of individual health insurance plans.
To be clear, Catch isn’t quite a full-service online bank (yet). It doesn’t offer a checking account, debit card, or interest-bearing savings account, so you’ll still need to rely on a traditional or online bank (like BBVA) for your primary spending and savings accounts. But using Catch’s platform to manage your tax withholding is reason enough to enroll, not to mention the added retirement, time-off, and health insurance services. It’s a lot easier than trying to track and manage your income manually as a freelancer.
Over the last few years, BBVA’s Open Platform has also powered Azlo, Digit, Modo, and other finance startups. “BBVA is the largest U.S. bank doing something like this in terms of white-labeling banking services, so it gives consumers a level of trust and security,” French says.
“Working with Open Platform gives us confidence that we’re providing critical financial services that are compliant and scalable,” says Kristen Tyrrell, Catch’s co-founder and COO.
The gig economy is currently under scrutiny from lawmakers in California, who might force companies like Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers as employees instead of independent contractors. It’s a promising development, but we’re probably still years away from a national shift in that direction, assuming one ever happens. Until then, services like Catch can help close the benefits gap between salaried employees, full-time freelancers, and independent contractors.
The Catch app is now available for Android and iOS.