Smile API gives freelancers, gig-economy workers access to financial services

Published November 19, 2021, 7:14 PM

by MB Technews

The COVID-19 crisis has turned the Philippine economy into a gig economy, with more and more people opting for or even forced to seek jobs online. However, the nature of this type of employment is still “below the radar” of established, traditional financial institutions. As a result, many freelancers don’t have the needed financial credentials to apply for loans or get credit cards, causing them to join the ranks of the underserved in financial and related services. The good news is that through technology, companies such as MoveForward Inc (MFI) have emerged to provide fair and inclusive buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services on a per transaction basis.

“MFI understands the need for Filipinos to have flexible payment solutions that can help them get what they need right now and pay through installments,” shared MFI CEO Johanne Lim at the recent launch of MFI’s partner, Smile API which processes applications in seconds, not days, even for online freelancers, and those without credit cards.

A sad reality is that today’s financial landscape is not inclusive. Established financial institutions don’t serve the needs of people who are most likely to not have cash on hand when they need to make quick emergency purchases. Only those with proven high disposable income can have access to credit cards or financing for emergencies or even passion and luxury purchases. The average Filipino has to prove employment to facilitate even a small loan.

But proving employment via conventional means is not always available to online freelancers and sellers, further worsening their problem. However, by virtue of their having to transact with online employers, freelancer or gig platforms, workers do in fact have proof of income that can be verified online with the right technology, and then bridged to online fintech apps as proof of employment and income when needed. This in essence is where MFI’s partner Smile API comes in.

“All financial product segments have one thing in common, they require data to be processed as part of their vetting protocols. The more data that is available—provided that data is favorable—the lower the risk becomes for the financial institution,” explained Smile API CEO Jerome Eger. “But whether it is a small or large loan, the conventional process of vetting a borrower remains largely similar: it takes days to weeks, and it involves human intervention.”

Above, Smile API CEO, Jerome Eger “With Smile, lengthy applications for Verification of Income (VOI) or Verification of Employment (VOE) are a thing of the past.” Below, MoveForward Inc. CEO Johanne Lim “With the coming together of Smile API and MFI, we are much closer to true financial inclusion than ever before.”

This is why a quick loan for a large emergency purchase is not really feasible for most freelancers, and only credit card holders can make such emergency purchases. Eger revealed a solution: “Smile API helps to close the data gap by offering users the easiest way to connect individual employment information to their financial service providers. It does so by partnering with a growing network of employers. More importantly for freelancers, it also links to employment platforms whether gig or freelancer, ERP/HRM systems, payroll systems, and other employment like platforms.”

“Smile API is conveniently integrated into a growing number of Fintech apps including MFI in the Philippines, from where end-users have full control and transparency over what data is shared with their favorite Fintech app. With Smile, lengthy applications for Verification of Income (VOI) or Verification of Employment (VOE) are a thing of the past,” Eger concluded. Through Smile API, verification of credentials for financial services can now happen literally in seconds, and approval or rejection of a loan can be determined much more quickly.

The partnership between Smile API and MFI also empowers Filipinos to immediately make emergency purchases such as medicines, car parts, home fixtures or appliances, etc. It offers a wide variety of e-Commerce high runners, such as smartphones and electronic appliances, through the instant access of Smile API’s data infrastructure. While there is a wide and growing selection of brands and products on the MFI catalog, shoppers can also avail of Philippine-based products through an online store or shopping platform like Shopee or Lazada. Through its personal linkshopper feature, MFI can also offer BNPL services to the consumer, even for emergency purchases.

“With the coming together of Smile API and MFI, Filipinos are much closer to true financial inclusion than ever before,” said Lim.

To learn more about MoveForward Inc., and how it works go to: For fintech companies and financial institutions that want to see the potential of what Smile API offers, you can learn more here: