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7 Unique Features 1099 Workers Expect From Their Bank

If freelancers created a banking app that met their unique needs, what would it look like?

We all see the commercials for banks advertising "new ways of banking," yet their innovations seem to be variations on the standard bank account — which also means that there's an assumption that everyone makes money the same way. But not everyone is "traditionally" employed, and a "traditional" bank account won't fit everyone's needs.

One of those markets is the 68 million independent workers who are finding that traditional banks aren't fitting their financial needs. Gig workers, freelancers, contractors, and on-call workers are small businesses of one that don’t have an HR department taking care of their withholdings, tax, or insurance concerns. And that workforce will only grow: independent workers are expected to number 90 million by 2028, and half of full-time employees now say they are thinking of moving into independent work in the next five years. They’re also younger, with 53% of Gen Z identifying as independent workers, as opposed to just 40% of Millennials, 31% of Gen X, and 29% of Baby Boomers.

Challenger banks are in the perfect position to create banking accounts with tools and features that can meet the needs of these workers. In our report on “Banking the Independent Economy,” we found that 46% of independent workers who don't have a business account are looking to open one, and that only about half are satisfied with their current bank. That means that a massive audience is ripe for new options.

But what special features do they need? They told us. Here are the top features that independent workers are looking for in a bank account.


It's no surprise that they want a bank account that they can use in a mobile app. For most people, the days of banking in a branch are done, and independent workers who are on the go or maximizing their billable time don't have the luxury of sitting in a bank branch. The need for a mobile app also comes from the fact that a lot of gig and freelance work these days is done through apps. Upwards of 77% are finding work through apps and tech, as opposed to traditional networking. With a mobile phone as the new office, independent workers want to keep their tools in one place.

Identify business expenses

Independent workers are essentially a business of one, and need to track their expenses and deductions, and conduct other administrative tasks that W-2 employed workers don't have to think about. It makes sense then that they want tools to help them do so. Independent workers would love a banking app that can identify tax-deductible expenses for them, so they can not only save time and energy doing it themselves, but so they can be ready for tax time and not miss something they can deduct.

Automate tax withholdings

Independent workers also don't have their taxes automatically taken out of their paychecks like W-2 workers do. Instead, after each app payout, invoice payment, or ecommerce sale, independent workers need to calculate how much taxes they owe on that income, and need to set that amount aside to pay estimated quarterly taxes so they're not penalized at tax time. But we found in our report on “State of Taxes in the Independent Economy” that this is a challenge: 40% don’t set aside income for their taxes and 42% say they can’t pay their quarterly estimated tax payments. That’s why they want a bank account that can automatically move that tax percentage over into another account, and perhaps have the account automatically pay their quarterly taxes as well.

Categorize expenses

In addition to identifying expenses so that they can keep track of what they truly spend as a business owner, independent workers would also like their bank account to categorize their expenses as well. This could be for the purposes of budgeting, tracking business needs, or finding places to reduce costs.

Set aside for savings

Similarly, independent workers want to set aside portions of their income into other types of savings. Considering that independent workers also do not have retirement, social security, health insurance, transportation expenses, or other benefits being automatically deducted from a paycheck means they have to budget and save for these expenses directly.

Budgeting tools

With expenses and deductions identified and categorized, with portions of income set aside for tax payments or savings, and with income often inconsistent or variable, independent workers see the value in having budgeting tools built right into their bank account. While there are robust third-party budgeting apps out there, they want all of that in one place, so they can keep track of their income and expenses, manage their independent work, achieve their financial goals, and scale for the future.

Built-in invoicing

Finally, independent workers would also like a banking app that offers invoicing. Like with budgeting, there are third-party tools available, but independent workers want to keep their tools for managing their work in one place. Invoicing integration not only makes it easier to track what's coming and going, but it goes back to the root of their pain point: How can I find tools that will make life easier and more efficient for me?

The Call to Challenger Banks

"The future of banking for independent workers isn't traditional bank branches with free coffee and pens. It's mobile-first banking powered by teams and technology focused on making the handoff between work and banking as seamless as possible,” says Eytan Bensoussan, CEO and Co-Founder of NorthOne. By integrating accounting, ecommerce, and invoicing tools, “challenger banks make taxes and tracking incomes and expenses far easier for independent workers. All these streams of data are finally connected."

If you could solve the pain points of a 68 million person market that’s only set to scale, would you? Or would you keep iterating on the same old bank accounts?

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Trent Bigelow

Trent Bigelow

CEO and Co-founder


Member since

21 Dec 2021


San Francisco

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