The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure, India Spotlight 2020

With each study in our ongoing series The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure, we aim to better understand the economic impact of COVID-19 on gig workers, further helping fintech entrepreneurs serve the most vulnerable consumers by examining their changing financial needs.

Our fourth edition of the series focuses on India, tracking the economic struggles of gig workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. India Spotlight September 2020 reveals that nearly 90% of Indian gig workers have lost income during the pandemic. These workers often enjoyed above-average earnings before the pandemic, but more than a third surveyed were making less than ₹5,000 (approximately US$68) per month by August.

Key findings include:

  • Incomes have collapsed since the lockdowns. While most Indian gig workers earned over ₹25,000 per month (approximately US$ 340) before the pandemic, by August nearly nine in 10 were making less than ₹15,000 per month (US$ 200). More than a third of gig workers were making about US$ 2.3 per day or less.
  • Indian gig workers have been resilient: If they lost their main source of income, Flourish found that 47% of gig workers could not cover their expenses for a month without borrowing money – although the fact that 52% could manage for more than a month indicates greater financial resilience than we found in other markets.
  • Many are taking painful action: 44% have already borrowed, 45% have cut consumption, 83% have used their savings, and 57% have acted on the loan moratorium to reduce or halt payments on their debts.
  • Government aid has alleviated some hardship: Of those surveyed, 42% received food or financial aid from government COVID-19 relief. Those who have were over four times less likely to say they have lost hope
  • Despite real fears about the health risk, 61% of respondents were more concerned about their ability to work. Concern for their livelihoods outweighed gig workers’ worries about even their access to basic needs (17%) or their family’s health (12%).
  • Most gig workers worry about their future. While immediate cash flow was a moderate concern, at least 61% of respondents’ top concern was saving for old age or paying off debt.

This research also highlighted the potential of Fintech to serve their unmet financial needs and improve their financial security – especially as nearly all intended to remain on digital platforms for gig workers. The need to manage strained day-to-day cash flows, and better prepare for the future, could be served by Fintech solutions, as gig workers are already digitally connected. At Flourish, our hope is that the same digital platforms which enabled the gig economy can connect workers to new sources of income and better financial tools for security in this crisis and beyond.

We partnered with research firm 60 Decibels and local partners Avail Finance and Unitus Capital to conduct the online survey of 770 Indian gig workers in August 2020

Download the full India Spotlight September 2020 here.