If 1 second makes a difference, imagine what 1 dollar can do too.

The other day a friend of mine recounted a story on her defeat in a competition by the mere fact of being just a second too late. Depending on the context – a second can feel like an eternity, or as passing as an unmemorable breath out of the thousand you’ll take in a day. Even though it being one of the simplest measures of time; something simple does not mean anything less crucial – as we all know how much can flip in just one second.

Interestingly, when the topic of money arises, smaller units are usually not associated with big impacts. We can spend a dollar absent-mindedly, but what is the tipping point when a mere few dollars build up into a transaction you actually think about first before spending? How long do you google to find the best deals before booking a flight or a hotel?

The perception and importance of small monetary units are evolving just as how digital communities continue to evolve. Platforms such as Youtube and Facebook have created whole new economies of marketing and commerce around influencers alone. There are both micro-influencers addressing specific niches and celebrities with millions of followers benefiting from this business model. What both groups have in common is that they share the fact of having a community of followers that is borderless. Considering all that information, isn’t it still surprising that to this day it is still a cumbersome process for influencers to get paid?

Covid19 has definitely exposed our most vulnerable sides; not only in terms of health but also from an economic standpoint. In the midst of this pandemic – it has been seen that dependency on a single source of income can be devastating to the millions of lives and communities around the world. Just how it is known that diversification of investments is key to decreasing vulnerability; the same rule of thumb applies to income diversifying. With the ever-increasing improvements and advancements of technology, we should make use of this opportunity to be less dependent on a single source of income and rather diversify our income streams. Side hustles are increasingly becoming more relevant and is increasingly being recognised as a crucial part of income diversification. 

Unlike TikTok and Instagram where influencers get paid by brands and agencies; social streaming platforms like Bigo Live and Facecast are on the forefront of this and already provide millions of users with opportunities to directly monetise from their audience. Globally, Bigo Live broadcasters have been known to earn as much as $5,000 per month. Direct audience monetisation is the key to unlock new income streams in this age of the gig economy. Twitch – the leading live streaming platform for gamers – has helped numerous of their users to earn money by broadcasting how they master a video game. Their followers can subscribe for $5 a month or they can send small value donations during live games, which can add up to thousands of dollars per day.Whether it’s a platform for gamers or something more generic such as Zoom or Skype that can be used to teach language or yoga classes, the number of uses where small-value payments between people become part of the user experience, are limitless. 

The reason why we haven’t seen more of this yet is because the underlying infrastructure for small-value cross-border payments is still in its infancy. Transferring money between individuals is key for a gig economy to flourish, but the channels available today have been built on old-economy use cases, such as sending money along migrant worker corridors. The pattern of money flow is completely different for digital communities: Earners and spenders can be anywhere, amounts are typically very small and transfers may happen multiple times in a day. 

I have been an early advocate of small value cross-border payments and I believe it is essential to address some of the world’s major problems such as poverty, inclusion, and more. Small-value cross-border payments between people is about financial empowerment. It’s about giving people an opportunity to directly earn from anywhere, no matter how small. As with units of time, small units of money does change a lot too.

Gregor Arn
Founder & CEO Wallet Engine

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