Mobile banking for European freelancers
Becoming a freelancer can be quite tempting. At the same time, it comes with a lot of disadvantages and responsibilities that are not so appealing: billing, taxes, accounting. All of this needs to be done right and on time. That's why Creative Dock, in cooperation with Raiffeisenbank International, created a digital banking platform tailored specifically to freelancers’ financial needs.
Creative Dock has been an important partner for Raiffeisenbank International's innovation projects since 2019.
In the same year, the Fairo project was launched in response to RBI's desire to expand its presence in the SME segment, especially among freelancers – a fast-growing market that RBI had difficulties attracting with its existing products.
Our main contribution
A big advantage for users is that Fairo was designed by freelancers who know what it's like to freak out about tax penalties. Many freelancers admit that their least favorite parts of the job include financial administration, dealing with authorities, and keeping track of legislative changes.
In-depth market and industry analysis
Business design & testing
About the project
Freelancers are more satisfied with their lifestyle, according to Payoneer’s 2020 Freelancer Income Report.
Compared to employees, freelancers believe they are more in charge of their success and that their position provides more opportunities for upward mobility. They even claim to feel overall healthier and happier, according to Payoneer’s 2020 Freelancer Income Report. On the other hand, they are worried about income instability and putting enough money into savings, they tend to be confused about where and how to pay taxes, and struggle with jumping between different business software and apps.
Our task was to create a digital banking platform focused on the microsegment. Launched in Ukraine, and scaled to Romania, with other countries to follow.
We were looking for a suitable initial market and chose Ukraine due to its size, positive customer attitude towards digitalization, the rapid growth of the SME/freelancer segment, and also because of the frequent challenges that freelancers face there. These often include struggling with taxes, the complexity of the whole process, and the fear of being fined by the tax office for accounting errors. While invoicing and other administration generally take up a lot of freelancers’ valuable time, with Fairo you can issue an invoice literally in seconds.
Another issue is the fact that the account number to which taxes are to be paid in Ukraine may change every quarter. Freelancers have to keep track of this themselves. Taking this challenge into account, the Fairo app tracks all changes and enables the user to simply create an invoice even on their tram ride to work.
The Fairo app is integrated with more than 20 banks through APIs
We originally built a digital bank with both a banking and a non-banking part
Currently, only the non-banking part is working due to the geopolitical situation
Unfortunately, a year and a half after the full MVP version was launched, the war in Ukraine started. Our designers came up with the idea of offering payment cards in UA colors almost immediately and we deployed a quick conversion to support the war-torn country. In the meantime, Raiffeisenbank International suspended the banking part of the app for a while. Just like the war, this decision is still ongoing. Although this could be seen as a slight loss, it forced us to rethink the proposition and focus even more on improving the non-banking part of the app. It currently works in Ukraine as well as another market – Romania – and makes life easier for freelancers on many levels.
MVP was launched in phases, with the non-banking part in Ukraine entering the market in the summer of 2020 and the Fairo bank accounts in the spring of 2021
The non-banking part was scaled to Romania in the summer of 2021
Together with RBI, Creative Dock has created a non-banking mobile app that allows freelancers and small businesses to reduce the cost of several different services. It helps users with various challenges:
Creates invoices in 60 seconds
Automatically tracks the payment of client invoices
Calculates the taxes the user has to pay in real-time
Automatically tracks and sorts transactions for bookkeeping
Submit the income tax reports
App launch results
app logins in Ukraine
app logins in Romania
More than 3,500
tax reports submitted in Ukraine
The choice of the initial Ukrainian market proved to be correct. Since the launch of the app in 2020, we have recorded nearly 160,000 logins and 3,500 tax reports have been filed through the app in the country.
How the app is used in Ukraine:Thanks to our users, we know what works best – the winning functions being automated taxation and direct reporting through the app. There is no open banking in Ukraine as we are used to in other parts of Europe (PSD2), so we have integrated directly with leading banks on the market: PrivatBank and MonoBank. This covers more than 70% of our target users.
How Fairo’s tax reporting works:
1. We automatically add up all business income from user accounts in PrivatBank and MonoBank. Alternatively, the user can enter the amount manually
2. We calculate the taxes due and report the result directly to the tax office
3. We provide the user with correct payment details of the relevant tax authority to pay the tax
4. We inform them when their tax report has been accepted from the tax authority
registered users in Ukraine
More than 8,500
registered users in Romania
opened in Ukraine
Although the time in which the Fairo app was created was not an ideal one – with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the ensuing crisis including rising energy prices –, the app continues to attract more and more freelancers, serving as their partner in business administration. And if there's one thing we can do to make their lives easier, it's this pocket app that won't let them down. A pleasant outcome of this process is three side benefits that affect not only the users but also Raiffeisenbank International itself:
Launching digital transformation within RBI
First digital onboarding & accounts opening for RB Ukraine
New API platform for payouts and card maintenance