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Yandex Is Seeking a Piece of the Gig Economy

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Apr. 16 2019, Published 11:02 a.m. ET

Yandex.Money adds multicurrency support

Last month, Yandex (YNDX) announced that it was adding multicurrency support to its Yandex.Money payment platform. Yandex.Money initially worked with the Russian ruble, but Yandex is now upgrading the platform to support transactions in ten foreign currencies in addition to the ruble.

The supported foreign currencies include the US dollar, the euro, the British pound, and the Chinese yuan. Yandex hopes that the platform’s multicurrency support will make it more attractive to freelancers, the remote workforce that’s powering what has come to be known as the gig economy. Yandex’s revenue rose 39% YoY (year-over-year) in the fourth quarter.

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Flexible work schedule fueling the gig economy

Morgan Stanley estimates that the worldwide gig economy was valued at $3.7 trillion in 2017. As more and more people embrace flexible work schedules and are able to work from home, the gig economy is expected to continue expanding.

Some of the major companies contributing to the gig economy include Upwork (UPWK), Lyft (LYFT), and Uber. Upwork operates a freelancing marketplace. Its revenue rose 23% YoY to $67.3 million in the fourth quarter. Lyft (LYFT) and Uber provide ride-hailing services. Yandex and Uber run a taxi joint venture called Yandex.Taxi in Russia.

Serving the gig economy

Besides Yandex, PayPal (PYPL) and Square (SQ) are two other payment companies seeking a piece of the rapidly expanding gig economy. PayPal recently introduced instant bank transfer support, which allows customers to shift funds from their PayPal accounts to their bank accounts in seconds. The instant bank transfer feature is viewed as part of PayPal’s attempt to woo freelancers to its platform. On its part, Square issues a debit card that drivers who work for its Caviar food delivery service can use to receive their payments.

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