Episode 02Aug 11, 202245min

The Not-So-Remote Future of Work

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Episode Description

To decode the future state of work, our guests react to some new data about who “gig economy” workers really are, explain why how remote workers are paid is a bigger test of employee loyalty than ever, and make some predictions about what the new “work from everywhere” will mean for the future of global payroll and the enterprise.

Episode Transcript

This is Forward Exchanges by Nium, what’s next in modern money movement, one global conversation at a time.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Hello, and welcome to Forward Exchanges from Nium. We know you’re trying to stay on top of fast emerging changes in global payments when it’s all you can do to keep up with your day to day challenges. Hi, I’m Siobhan O’Neill Schwenk and on this podcast, we are joined by trailblazers and veteran players to investigate the real driving forces that are modernizing money movement, and what’s building or blocking its momentum around the world. Whether you’re new to global payments, a digital transformation veteran, or you just want to hear some great advice on what strategies create momentum in the global digital payments revolution, then this is the podcast for you.

Today, I am joined by some very special guests, Gabriel Gresham, vice president and head of U.S. business development at Nium, and Pedro Barros, VP of finance at Remote. The pair are here today to give us a look into some of the ways that the future of work is actually already here, using a familiar incentive, getting paid. Good morning. Welcome.

Gabriel Grisham
Thank you very much. Great to be here.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

As … I, I could ask each of you about your roles or your biggest accomplishments, but I think for a lot of our listeners, you need no introduction. So I’m gonna ask you something else instead, something that I think is a little more interesting. So global and remote work are where both of you have been cutting your teeth for about 20 years. So what’s the most formidable opponent that you’ve faced in this space? Gabriel, I’m gonna start with you.

Gabriel Grisham

Thanks, Siobhan. So good question. The, the biggest dragon, I think, when it comes to global payments, including payroll, is really around education and, and understanding what’s possible today. The markets move pretty quickly, but people are very used to, you know, wire transfers. And I have lot of conversations with potential clients and current clients, and it’s always about, here’s what’s next, here’s what’s happening. And you have assumptions that get made on the other side of the table, if you will, even if it’s virtual,

where it’s, it’s just like, I hear, “Oh, we have that already.” And it’s like, well, do you have real-time payments? Do you have a way to get your money and know that you’ve gotten your money within, you know … Whether you’re the sender or the receiver, making that efficient and making that visible from a transaction status standpoint, it’s always the education around, what is a real-time payment? How does that get there? How do I see it? How do I know it’s getting there?

If I’m the ris … if I’m the sender, I send wire transfers. Okay, that’s great. That’s a solution. It’s decades old, but that’s usually the biggest one, eh, is really around, we can pay to a card, we can pay to a bank account, we can … There’re all these different possibilities out there that you probably, actually don’t have today.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
Pedro, what dragons have you been slaying lately? Quite a few, I hear.

Pedro Barros

Quite a few, exactly. (laughs). So a- as you know, Remote went from zero to allotting 10 in three years. That’s more than 1,000 people, but clearly in the, um, in the … in this space, and, uh, payroll processing, and payment processing, uh, the biggest, uh, dragon has been the- the- the sheer number of countries where we are present. We are operational in 65 countries, so going from zero to 65 in, eh, in such a short period of time was tremendously challenging. Um, the intricacies of each market, the details, uh, the considerations, just getting m- m- payment solutions locally, it’s, uh, it’s incredible d- … incredibly difficult. And we have, uh, high expectations from our customers and our employees. Like, no one, uh, likes having payroll paid late, or, uh, not, with- without accuracy. So the standards are very, very high, and the expectations are tremendous. And, uh, our ambition is to fulfill those, uh, the best way possible.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

All right. I’m gonna get right to it. So I was reading a 2019 Mastercard survey, and it revealed that unpredictable payments are among the most common reasons for independent workers of all kinds to switch employers. And present company excluded, Gabriel, I can attest to this among my fellow freelancers for sure. When paying us gets that difficult, we head for the nearest exit. (laughs). We’re outa here, and we look for … and- and they look for customers and clients that can pay in full, on time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with freelancers. Oh, my God, I have to wait 90 days.

And I thought it was just a few of us, but what this report is telling me is what I’m hearing’s not a fluke, and there’s a much bigger issue at work here. And this isn’t just about payments, this is … this is a huge drain on human capital. Gabriel, what is going on here?

Gabriel Grisham

Well, eh, a couple of things. And Pedro alluded to the first one, it’s just the expectation. Right? It’s money that you’re earning and you expect it to be paid on time. That, you
know … If you have things going out the door, you have expenses, and you have an expectation that I’m gonna get paid on … Whether it’s the 15th and the 30th, or it’s the 30th, or it’s every week, or it’s every day, you expect that money to be coming in. So that’s the one thing. Um, on- on one side, you have the expectation that, you know, it’s a required payment that you … freelancers really need to receive. On the other side, is the- the complexity that comes with international payroll and sending money from one specific country to 50 countries, or 65 countries.

It becomes … Eh, eh, as soon as you go from one to two, really, eh, it’s not even, eh … as soon as you cross a currency, as soon as you cross a border, it becomes far more complicated. And that’s really because you have a number of components. First, you’ve got bank communication. You know, wires in the SWIFT network, the traditional method that works, but it’s three to five days, and unknown costs associated with it. Then you’ve got currency exchange, and you’ve got, you know … there’s … er, if- if … If I’m receiving, say euros, but the company paying me is in dollars, you know, when does that currency conversion happen? And how does the company sending the payment know that I’m actually receiving the money I expect to receive?

So you got timing, you’ve got cost, you’ve got an exchange rate that’s constantly fluctuating. And so it becomes, in a way, you know, a- again, expectation versus availability to deliver. And so what we’ve done with Nium, just a quick plug, is that we have our own, what you could call, you know, uh, an alternative to the SWIFT network, where everything comes out with a local delivery rail, and you can know exactly how much it’s gonna cost you up front. And so that becomes much more powerful, experience on the recipient end, when you’re getting …

You know, just think about it in the United States, when you’re getting paid via ACH, that’s essentially free. If you’re getting paid via wire, now all of a sudden, I’m … I’m out X amount of dollars, whether it’s 15 or it’s 45, it depends on your bank. And banks can do their own thing with … when it comes to FX rates, when they’re converting and whatnot. So that’s, at a high level, that’s really what’s happening is that it’s … You’ve got an

expectation that it’s gotta get there. I need the money in my bank account on the 30th or the 31st. And then I need the right amount.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Pedro, uh, to you, uh, Remote says that they’re on a mission to open the world of work for every person, business, and country, and doing that by simplifying how businesses employ global talent. And that starts, obviously, with payroll. It starts with everybody getting paid. What is your take on this, uh, on that data point? It, it, it surprised me, but maybe it doesn’t surprise you as much.

Pedro Barros

No, it doesn’t surprise at all. (laughs). And I think, uh, Gabriel already allude to that, and I- I mentioned that earlier. It’s like, they’re very high expectations, but, eh, most of the banking system, apart from new, new players like Nium and others that are, uh, bringing, uh, a revolution on top of it, is very outdated and it’s very old. Wires, no one knows where it went through. People take their cut. (laughs). So how do, er, how do you know, by the end of the- the full transaction, you get the full amount? It’s mind blowing that it’s still that way in a lot of the transactions that- that we see. And, uh, obviously, we have the- the duty to make sure that we find the best partners to- to work with, to- to optimize how our employees and the companies, uh, are- are paying, and being paid. As I mentioned, both on time, but with a high, uh, efficiency, not on only cost, but also on the timing and reliability. What you don’t want is money getting lost, and that happens.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

I was quite taken by something that, Job, who’s the founder and CEO at Remote, said in your Remote connect session that you hosted, I listened to the other day. And he’s … You were talking about, payroll is the entry to FinTech. And he said that, (laughs), before Remote had tried to implement remote payroll, that he didn’t actually appreciate how hard it is to make sure that money gets where it’s supposed to be, across borders, banks, financial instruments. And he said that it was much more difficult than he anticipated, and then if you hadn’t relied on Fintech, you wouldn’t have been able to do so. You wouldn’t have been able to make those expectations. Tell me, at a high level, what some of the barriers to entry, here in payroll and payr- … uh, payments have been for Remote, that perhaps our listeners might not have thought about.

Pedro Barros

Most of the payments on payroll are done locally. So just the complexity of phoning, uh, of, or- or having your own local account, if … sometimes even a payroll account, and what are the details of the files that you need to work with, which differs, country by country. To just process the payment, it’s … it’s immense, and, uh, the probability of failure is- is

gigantic. And, uh, we are here to- to- to make sure that, uh, we reduce that. And bringing the technology layer on something that’s, uh, as I mentioned, is very outdated infrastructure, globally, it’s what will solve us, uh … it will solve this- this challenge. And so FinTech is the key for- for enabling payroll. Uh, payroll stimulates a lot of the financial technology that we need to bring, and the two, together, are solving massive … a massive problem, which is, how do you move capital around the world in an efficient manner?

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Gabriel, I know that doesn’t surprise you. I see you’re nodding. Was talking about Remote’s barriers to entry. What, for you, have been some interesting thorns, if you have any, that you’ve tried to … tried to pull out, or any problems that you’ve had to solve?

Gabriel Grisham

Really, if you wanna boil it down, it goes to the availability of the Internet, first and foremost. You know, FinTech doesn’t exist without broadband, and you can’t do, you know, something like what Nium does without, you know, a high connectivity rate and- and high success rates, and the ability for both senders and receivers to have access to all that information in- in near real-time.

So when you get into, now, the international money movement, as Pedro alluded to, it gets very complex, especially country to country. Every country has a different set of regulations. And then you’ve got taxes that you have to include in- into the equation, especially for full-time employees, where there’s one thing for a, like, a gig economy or, you know, just somebody that’s, uh, the equivalent of a 1099 worker, and then you’ve got a full-time employee where now you’ve got local taxes that you have to pay. So in that case, in some countries, the requirement is that it gets paid from a local bank account. That way, taxes can get either pulled from the local bank account, or the- they have information regarding that transfer and what that … what that looks like.

And so it becomes much more complicated, especially, not just international money remittance, for any reason. When it comes to payroll, now you have added layers of complexity on top of it that come to play, where you just have to comply with. There’s no getting around it. These are government regulations. Er, every body wants their cut, and that includes taxes, of course. So it doesn’t … no, it doesn’t surprise me. And it- it’s … it’s something that we’ve been dealing with, you know, for a long time.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Pedro, and you- you were talking about this with IBS Intelligence recently, about how complex the classification and the tax implications of remote work are. And not to

mention, preserving the business’s fiscal resiliency, you know. What are our cash reserves? What’s our cashflow? It just adds, eh, exponential complexity, and how massive and undertaking this is for any global organization. What do you think any financial leader should be aware of? I ask you this from your perspective, on the finance team, what do you think any financial leader should be aware of as their organization sorts … starts- starts to lurch headlong into the world of remote hiring?

Pedro Barros

In the end, remote exists because there was … there was a need. (laughs). There was a huge complexity in dealing with, eh, global taxation, inter company and inter country, uh, taxation, local taxation, your permanent th- … establishment exposure, the qualification or misqualification of, uh, your employees in the … in the country. Either, as you mentioned, is a 1099 or a W-2. It’s, uh, it differs massively, and can expose you to- to a high risk of misqualification in the country.

So when you are building and, uh, enabling your team to- to work, distributors or remotely, uh, eh, as you may call, it’s super important that you understand what is the- the … your level of understanding, but also, what is your risk, uh, your risk appetite. So I see some companies, very wild, and we employ everyone as a contractor, anywhere, wherever. I’m like, “Okay, that may not be the safest option in the world.” (laughs). But, uh, … And you have others that, uh, are much more conscious, uh, or are public companies, and have a different level of- of- of risk, uh, risk, uh, appetite and awareness, and, uh, are really, really careful in how they expand internationally, and do a deep assessment and deep qualification, and due diligence of their partners, like Remote or others.

How do they treat local taxation? If they hire as a contractor, what are the benefits or risk, versus an employee? What will … Are they exposed to permanent establishment? Or what’s the risk of being exposed? And what, uh, issues … what are the mitigants? So there is a ver- … It goes very, very deep in terms of what is, uh, your risk exposure, and Remote exists exactly to enable that. You have an- another layer, which is how you deal with your employees. Uh, do you want equity and, uh, everyone is treated the same way as employees with access benefits, social security and protection? Or do you want, uh, to have, uh, much less a relationship and he’s a contractor, and each one is responsible for their own taxation locally?

And then it’s, uh … There are several, uh, ways of looking at the challenge, but none of them are easy. But, eh, I think companies are getting increasingly more mature on this. And, uh, you have some established players, like Remote, that are really enabling companies, not only from an operational, but also from a strategic perspective.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk (16:10):

Pedro, are there geographies maybe that have been more active in this space? Or any specific, interesting developments in certain countries, or cooperations between certain countries? For example, for technology companies like yourselves, uh, er, or is it coming from some surprising places, or maybe not so surprising, if you know where to look?

Pedro Barros

In terms of, uh, exposure to- to global, uh, employment, I think you have very qualified workers that, locally, don’t have access to- to really good jobs, or to- to good companies, but they have the qualifications. So this movement has enabled folks, uh, in many different countries to- to have better jobs. And that’s big part of our mission. In terms of, uh, geographies that have increasingly been enabling this- this movement, governments take a long, long time to catch up with, uh, with this socioeconomic, uh, movement. And, uh, finally some are, uh, catching up, either because they had a huge impact in their GDP, because they were overexposed to tourism, for example, which went really down, and they had to turn very quickly into how to attract folks who really move to- to the country, and work from there. And others, because they have, uh, a very interesting, early stage startup agenda, uh, are enabling this with, uh, with the startup visas and, uh, nomad visas.

And, um, it’s working quite well, and you have examples like Portugal, uh, Mali, uh, Barbados, what I think was one of the first, uh, uh, geography, countries, uh, [inaudible 00:17:45] to launch, uh, this- this technology visa at the time, maybe two years ago by now. So some countries had to quickly turn around.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Gabriel, uh, one of the … You … When you and I, talking the other day, you were talking about the experience that you’ve had in the Philippines. I was wondering if you could provide some context to that ’cause I … that … I thought that was really interesting.

Gabriel Grisham

Yeah. So at Nium, we get lots of requests, lots of times around, where can we make payouts to? And how fast? And you know, how does it get there? And one of the common requests is actually for the Philippines. It’s interesting. Uh, I hadn’t heard the nomad visa nomenclature, Pedro, before, but that’s a good one. When it comes to a global workforce and the ability now to hire anybody from just about anywhere, as well as for any individual to work for a company no matter what country they’re in or where … what country that company is in, is an incredibly powerful thing.

There are complications, but the opportunity on both sides, one, for the company to get access to a skilled labor force that can be global, as well as that individual that wants to, you know … If you’re in the Philippines or you’re in Mexico, or you’re in Spain, and you can work for a company that is actually headquartered anywhere around the world, is incredibly powerful. So the, uh … But back to the Philippines, yeah, lots of requests for that. Lots of requests for, can we payout there? Can we pay there efficiently? Can it be same day? Can we pay to a card? Can we create our own card and pay, you know, have our own card that we send to that individual? Lot of requests there, and, eh, it’s only grown over the la- … You know, this has always been moving. Of course, with the recent state of the globe, it moved a bit faster. But yeah, lo- lot of demand there.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

In the interest of full disclosure, on today’s episode, we originally had talked about focusing on the quickly evolving gig economy, but it feels like there’s something so much bigger happening here, which is why we started talking about remote work and aggregate. And, uh, when a lot of people think of the gig economy, they think of companies like DoorDash or Uber, but I’m thinking of the … of Morgan Stanley’s report, titled The Multi Earner Era, as well as this recent explosion in contract and digital nomad, for lack of a better term. And I think I’m just gonna call ev- … work every which where, for lack of a better term. (laughs). Gabriel, what are your thoughts on how the gig economy, or work everywhere, has expanded in recent years, and the role that the pandemic’s obvious force shift to remote work has played in that effort?

Gabriel Grisham

So let’s go back five, 10 years. Yes, it was the Ubers, the DoorDashes. You know, I’ve got my 9:00 to 5:00, and then I can go do something else on the side and make a little bit more money, and be a little bit of a freelancer. Fast forward to today, I think that you’ve got just su- … eh … At the individual level, if I wanna go out and I wanna make money, where can I do that? And I can do that on at least 10, if not 20 or 30 different platforms. I can be a social media influencer. I can create music. I can sell, you know, a consulting service, and my customer base is a global customer base as well. And then you take that, you know, at the entry level, of course, mm, you can go drive for Uber or be on DoorDash. And then you can go all the way up, and if you’re a … if you’re an expert in finance and you wanna be a CFO, you could be a CFO freelancer and work for five different companies.

It’s gone that broad, that quickly. You know, this started … This didn’t start two years ago. This started probably 10, 20 years ago, with people starting to think like, you know, how do I make money for myself? And where do I wanna go, and what do I wanna do? And fast forward to today, it’s anybody and everybody that- that wants to figure out a way to, whether it’s have a better lifestyle or do what they love, and- and not be locked in to the local company and the … or the local factory, or the local whatever. And if they … if you

have access to- to broadband Internet, it’s one of those things where, now, something that wasn’t even possible 20 years ago becomes, not easy, but attainable pretty quickly.

And so if you’re an individual out there, and you’re looking for the next thing, spend some time. Spend, er, you know, find the right, whether it’s an employer or white … right way to make money, make sure that you can get paid, of course. But it’s, it, it’s an exciting time, I think. I think it’s, it … and it’s not going back. I don’t see it going back, ever.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Pedro, are there any through lines that you’ve observed in the global talent and the remote workforce economy, that either transcend borders or are starting to?

Pedro Barros

I think trends and borders is the theme of the … a lot of the remote, uh, there … some of the remote movement, which is folks that want to be free from a physical space, but they- they are excited about the job they have, the work they do. But, uh, they are not attached to- to- to an office or to a place. And they want to make the best of their time, uh, on earth, and- and really experience different places, different cultures, uh, expose themselves to different challenges by moving abroad or moving, uh, very frequently to other places, but also take the opportunity of- of experiencing new cultures and, uh, something that could be better for them. And I think all this movement has been gaining a lot of traction.

To be fair, and I have experienced this, Remote is, uh, is, uh, it’s a remote first company, fully distributed. And I live in- in a dream place, uh, in my garden. I have my nice … mice nice little office, and, uh, I, uh, I didn’t want to be anywhere else, and … But I love my job and … but I don’t need to smell my colleagues to- to do a very good job. (laughs).

Gabriel Grisham

Eh, er, it’s an interesting point, just to top on that. It … Also, what happens, er, just like Pedro alluded to, it’s not just, I’m gonna go out and I’m gonna find the next thing, and I have a, you know … I can work for anyone, anywhere. It’s really, if you really love your job, but you say, “You know what? I don’t wanna live in this city, or I don’t wanna live in this country, and I want to go experience Malta, or I wanna head to Australia.” Today a company is probably gonna turn around and say, “Okay. We have a global workforce. If you wanna move there, not a problem. We don’t have an office there, but again, if you have a computer and broadband, we can make this happen.”

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

The Morgan Stanley report that I mentioned also notes that workers of all stripes and- and income levels are now participating in the multi earner economy, and you pointed this out, Gabriel, a little bit. You talked about fractional CFO. That … My first experience with that was about four, five years ago. The report pointed out that finance and IT workers make up the highest percentage of any professions in- in the content creation platform. I’m gonna out myself here. I happen to be one of those people who moved from a full-time, in office role to concurrent, remote contract, consulting, creative roles, like this one, with global companies, and o- often concurrently. And as a lifelong traditional employee, it’s a whole new universe for me, riddled with challenges that I didn’t anticipate.

Not just the payment aspect of it, but invoicing and policies, and technology policies, and all of those things that I didn’t think about before. And Pedro, I’m pretty sure you know where I’m going with this. What are the biggest issues that you’re seeing across geographies? And how are you trying to solve for them, alongside payroll?

Pedro Barros

Payroll is- is- is obviously … We, we spoke at length about it, but d- … there are local legislation that may prevent, uh, companies from certain activities, or you, yourself from- from others. But mostly, given how digital a lot of these activities are, usually, you have very little restrictions to- to how- how you do it. You mentioned invoicing, etc, so … but that’s local taxation challenges. The digital world and the accessibility that we have today, to- to Internet and to communication, uh, globally, enables you to- to- to have very fulfilling experiences from, not only a work, uh, side, but also things that you like doing.

Gabriel mentioned creating music and selling, and earning … getting some earning from- from that. Uh, I think other folks have other passions, or even folks that like consulting on the side. And I think that- that will continue. Uh, I agree with Gabriel, that will not go back, because what unlock that was Internet communication access and the globalization of- of, not only the companies, but yourself as a … as a worker, which, today, eh, if you think of, er, er, our working environment is the globe. The nuances between countries and etc, eh, they- they are reduced to nothing. It’s mostly ar- around payrolled and taxation, but as your contribution and what c- company benefits from you, that tends to be very limited in a lot of the roles, obviously others, uh, others not, uh, so. But finance and IT, clearly like it. You just need access to a desktop, Internet, and- and off you go.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk Gabriel?

Gabriel Grisham

That’s exactly right. You know, it’s really where … er, what- what value do you bring to an organization? And which organization would- would have the most value, whether it’s employing full-time or it’s, er, part-time. And th- … a lot of those … these jobs, especially in finance and IT, again, you- you’re looking at something that’s very repeatable, that’s very consistent around the world. There is no language barrier to putting together a spreadsheet. Right? There’s no … very little language barrier when you’re talking about job descript or whatever the newest, latest and greatest technology or coding platform is.

And then you get to, you know, you allude it to, a little bit, just expenses. And when you have expenses, then how do you get that reimbursed? Solving for that, uh, I would put that probably five sets below of, uh, actual salary or, mm, whatever kind of employment payment that you’re getting. But being able to expense, um, and get reimbursed, to a company, is another complication that comes up, especially, you know, on- on a global scale, that corporates have to be able to deal with. And there’re a number of solutions for it. I mean, the obvious one is an invoice or, eh …

Then you have your online platforms where you digitally submit a receipt. And then you’ve got card issuing, which is becoming increasingly popular for … especially for travel. You issue a virtual card to an employee. They use that card to purchase their flight or purchase their hotel, because doing this centrally has become almost impossible, at a global scale, to do it efficiently. It’s much easier for … just to allow the individual to make an intelligent decision around where they’re gonna stay and which airline they’re gonna fly, and when they’re gonna go. So yeah, virtual card issuing has become increasingly popular around the globe, as well as a physical card. Right?

You go … You’ve gotta travel somewhere. You’ve got, not just hotel and flight, you’ve got meals and you’ve got other purchases that you need to make on … because you’re working for another company. And so that becomes … That’s the opposite side of the equation, really, when it comes to a salary payment, is, now I’m not just getting paid, but I have expenses that I need to get reimbursed for. And solving for that is becoming much easier, right? There’s obviously a pain point that everybody had around the world. Right? Allocating money, understanding, you know, approval levels and all this stuff. And, and now there’re a number of ways to solve for it.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Part of the allure of the remote and/ or flexible workplace, if you’re an employer, is that it gives them access to a global workforce, which offers a pretty extraordinary depth of talent. In your experience, Gabriel, what are some other reasons that companies do this?

Gabriel Grisham

There’re a number of them. I think it starts, of course, with efficiency and savings. Right? If I can hire somebody locally at, call it $100 an hour, and I can hire that person to do the same job at $50 an hour, that sounds like a great deal, even if that person is located in Australia versus the US. Of course, you’ve got requirements around language, sometimes timing. You know, when are they available? But beyond that, there is no real barrier. So the one advantage is just efficiency in cost savings.

Another advantage is really, if, er … Having a global workforce now e- expands the experiences that your company has internally, when you’re looking to make a decision. Right? If everybody’s located in one location, coming to the table with the same assumptions, and you’re trying to do something new in a different country, those assumptions, even though you may not know you’re making them, are gonna be very difficult to get over, once you’re in that country. And I- I’ve seen this a lot, uh, uh, fr- … in previous jobs that I’ve had, where I wanna expand to a new country. I wanna try a new thing, I wanna sell my product, and the assumption is really, well, the market’s the same, the competitive landscape’s the same, the consumer’s the same than in my home country. And that’s almost never the case.

Having a global workforce all of a sudden gives you that resource internally, where now you don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a consulting agency to tell you what an individual that has lived in that location, possibly their entire lives, can tell you across the table, because they work for you. So that- that’s another huge advantage that a global workforce can bring to a company, is really just expanding the, eh, you- you can call it the mindset, you can call it whatever you want. It’s really just expanding the- the amount of experiences that a company has, collectively, to make intelligent decisions going forward.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Pedro, I know that you probably have something to add to this. Not just from Remote’s perspective in serving customers, but I know that Remote also has been, in a sense, eating its own dog food as it were, and using itself as a guinea pig for a lot of this. I … And so you’ve had some unique experiences. What would you add to that?

Pedro Barros

At Remote, we have folks from 75 different countries. (laughs). The finance organization, uh, alone, uh, has folks from Seoul to San Francisco. So we went for the best talent that had the cultural feet and had the values alignment to Remote, more than wherever they were located in. And I think that is a big opportunity, especially in current, uh, in the current environment where you see companies reviewing their spend and doing a orpex, uh, reconsiderations. You have extremely good talent across the globe that potentially is not, uh, as expensive as one in- in SF or other, uh, high cost of living, uh, regions.

And just this opportunity, it’s … it’s … it’s immense. So we, as you say, we … w- w- we take it to the extreme and we hire folks from very different places. And we’ll continue doing so, and, uh, it’s … it’s the … it’s the biggest opportunity. It’s why Remote also managed to- to- to grow as fast, is we had access to that talent pool. We have some of the best folks doing whatever we had to- to achieve, and, uh, working with us at the moment. So that’s tremendous, and that’s an opportunity like any other company has.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Pedro, I’ve heard you touch on the idea recently, that consumer payroll data is becoming increasingly relevant as it gives some pretty crucial insights to any banking, insurance, medical, etc, kinda data. Can you help contextualize that development for me? Because every time I hear consumer data, like, I get a little … I … Uh, it makes me a little nervous. Are, are they any security or risk concerns here that you’re concerned about?

Pedro Barros

There’re all these risks, (laughs), and, uh, and, uh, security challenges. That’s why the way we approach this challenge, or the privilege of- of- of working with, uh, a lot of individuals directly, across the world, we take it very, very serious and with the highest, eh, security and, uh, and- and privacy standards, but also present an opportunity for these individuals to- to have access to improved insurance, for example, because they work with the … with the, uh, versus individually. And with time, depending on each one’s interests and- and, the missions, uh, they at a employee level, access to different … to different things. Like, we spoke about payments, but we alspo- spoke about movement of capital. And, uh, having access to some of details that an employee may want to share may give them access to better credit reporting, for example, or access to- to financing for a mortgage or a home loan.

And these can start unlocking, because you can hel- have a much more integrated view of, uh, of what the … at the employee level. But, uh, as you say, like, our origin is- is, uh … is- is, uh, GDPR compliant one. So privacy, for us, is paramount. And, uh, as you mentioned, consumer … consumer data must be taken, uh, a- as it is, with the- the highest, uh, security and privacy standards as you can.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk Gabriel?

Gabriel Grisham

Just to go off of that, my reaction is really just on- on the privacy. And I have the exact same reaction of, uh, a credit card goes missing, your personal information, somebody, er, er, can apply for a loan. So ha- … actually having that security of, you know, the information is on the Internet, how do you, as a company, make sure that you’re storing that safely? It’s not every week, but it’s probably every month that somebody gets hacked somewhere, to get that private information, for an individual to either, best case scenario, target them with some advertising, and worst case is to try and steal their identity.

So it’s … it’s a huge concern, and it’s why countries around the world and- and larger organizations are looking at it in the best way to protect the individual. And that’s one of those things where, as you have an increasingly globalized, connected population, you gotta protect everybody from the bad actors out there. It’s, it’s incredibly important. It’s something that we take very seriously at Nium as well.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

So if I were, eh, if I were an employer right now, it seems like the warnings signs would all be there for really tight labor market, getting all the tighter as people choose to focus on generating income from multiple streams of work and creative work, and contract work that interest them, instead of taking that single income job. And this is a question to both of you, how do you think in your … from where you sit, that employers should be moving to compete in a post pandemic world?

Pedro Barros

(laughs). We live off that, so when we enable that and that’s, uh, our- our mission. Obviously with, uh, when you remove barriers for global employment, you are giving a lot of opportunity to the employees to find more competitive offers, more competitive jobs, not only from an economical perspective or financial perspec- … but also from jobs that fulfill them and make them happier. And that is, uh, a big, big one. And I think, increasingly, and I don’t know if it was the pandemic or if, eh, if it was happening already, it’s … it’s hard to determine, but people are focusing a lot in finding jobs and things to do that fulfill them and make them happy. And I think that’s the- the- the great challenge for companies, is how can you employ someone that will have the highest impact that you need for that person to have, but also make sure that you give back in terms of fulfillment, uh, career progression, the excitement to work, ownership, uh, trust, uh, for them to- to- to proceed and, uh, progress.

And I think that’s a huge, huge challenge, and you see a lot of companies being very strict with, uh, for example, going back to the office. It seems that within … some of those companies didn’t learn a lot over the last couple of years, and that’s a huge opportunity for companies that are much more flexible or have much more competitive mindset.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk Gabriel, do you agree?

Gabriel Grisham

Absolutely. You know, being in Silicon Valley for a while now, this all started with the tech company that had thrown in a ping-pong table, or had offer free lunches. Right? What you get today is much more of a … all the intangibles that go to an individual’s contribution. Not just to the corporation or the company that they’re working for, but
the … to their lives. And whether that’s where they live or the hours that they need to work, or the- the rewards they get, not just financial, but socially and- and- and other, you know, just … I feel like I’m accomplishing something at my work and I’m getting recognized for it.

And so I think that the movement now, at the corporate level, is much more towards, not only do we know we have to pay you what you deserve, but we need to also be respectful of time commitments. You know, there’s … 24 hours a day, you can be connected to the Internet and actually working, theoretically. Physically, that’s not really possible for any given time. And then you’ve got just other intangibles that … where companies are now looking at this, you know. It’s, er, it’s not just health insurance and it’s not just, well, how good is your dental plan? It’s how many vacation days can you get? Or paid vacation days, or how long is maternity leave? Not just for the mother, but also for the father.

And all of these things are coming to generating a- a comfortable lifestyle for the entire employee base, no matter where they’re located. So, yes, I think the- the negotiating power that an individual has today is- is far greater than it was 20 years ago, and there’re a lot reasons behind that. And the companies that are fastest to adapt to it, and understand that they need to be flexible in order to attract the- the best workforce that they can, are- are obviously the ones that are gonna win.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Being in power, we can talk about thish vision mission, all of that, that we want, but at the end of it, there is only one reason people, uh, really work, is to be paid. So in a nutshell,

what should every organization know about how to leverage the power of payroll to attract and retain great talent? Pedro?

Pedro Barros
Don’t make people worry about it.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
(laughs). I love that answer. (laughs).

Pedro Barros (laughs). Yes.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk
I love that. (laughs). Perfect. Gabriel?

Gabriel Grisham

Uh, yeah, from experience, when- when your company tells you, “Sorry, we’re gonna miss payroll this month,” that’s not a good feeling. Er, so yeah, don’t make ’em worry about it. Le- let that be known, that, eh, huh, like clockwork, you’re gonna get paid, and, eh, you know, er, extending that out a little bit. It’s not only, are you gonna get paid on the 15th or the 30th? But if, on the 7th, you need some money, you know, you’ve worked for seven days, request a payout. Er, I think that the flexibility and the timing, and the request, and the power is gonna be able to, you know … That is all just moving only in one direction, which is, er, more options.

So it’s not just, you know, of- of course, please, don’t worry about it. And if you have to, you probably should find another job or another source of income. But really, it’s how do you wanna get paid? When do you wanna get paid? What currency do you wanna get paid in? What form do you want that? Do you wanna have the ability to have half of your paycheck come directly to your bank account and half go into your 401K equivalent, or your investment account? It’s gonna be a, er … I think we’re gonna see a huge growth in the options of not just the currency you get paid in, whether it’s dollars or your local currency, to much more of, this is how I wanna disperse across these different things. And I think that companies like Remote are- are looking at this and- and saying, “Okay, what’s the next stage? What’s the … Wh- what’s coming three, four years down the road?” That, at an individual level, is gonna be extraordinarily beneficial.

Pedro Barros

I think you touched, I don’t know, maybe 15, 20 different laws there, which, (laughs), which was … which is something that it’s … it’s hard, but, uh, fully agree. The flexibility, and, uh, really be there for the employees, it’s … it’s what is critical.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

Thank you, gentlemen. One thing I forgot to do before we started this episode, and Pedro, I’m gonna start with you, if you could just tell me your name, your title at … whe- where you work, and 25 words or less about what your company does.

Pedro Barros

I am Pedro Barros. I’m VP of finance at Remote. We enable companies to employ anyone, anywhere, with the ambition to remove any barriers for wealth, access to individuals, and for companies to access talent across the globe.

Gabriel Grisham

Gabriel Gresham, VP of business development at Nium. We move money globally, for financial institutions, large corporates, for just about any use case, whether that’s payroll, invoice payments, remittances, and trying to make that international money movement faster, easier, more efficient. That’s our entire focus.

Siobhan O’Neill-Schwenk

That is all we have time for today. I wanna say thank you so much to Pedro and Gabriel for joining us today, to give us some insight and discuss what modern money movement is really all about. On this show, we’re investigating the real driving forces that are modernizing money movement and what’s building, or blocking, its momentum around the world. Make sure you’re subscribed. Check us out at nium.com/forexhanges, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’re enjoying the show, leave us a review and tell us what you like. We’d love to hear from you. I’m Siobhan O’Neill Schwenk and this has been Forward Exchanges from Nium.

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