Toronto startup is offering loans to food couriers but critics say it's predatory
Flyers for a new business have been popping up around Toronto in recent weeks, and it turns out it's a company offering loans specifically to food couriers and rideshare drivers.
Moves is making it easier than ever for rideshare drivers and couriers to access fair financial products.— Moves (@getmovesapp) April 14, 2020
See https://t.co/8PlAmxeodY to see if you qualify for a $2,500 year long loan. Interest free for 12 weeks, $70/week for the 40 weeks thereafter (total repayment of $2800) pic.twitter.com/8wYVnSEaih
They're offering $2,500 one-year loans to Uber/Lyft drivers and people delivering food for apps who've experienced a reduction in earnings thanks to the pandemic, since banks and credit scores typically disqualify them from financial services.
"This loan is intentionally designed to be cheaper than a credit card, with a 12-week grace period to help get our customers through this difficult period," Spoke said.
"Our vision is to become the trusted partner of the independent workforce across North America. Fundamentally, we believe credit scores are outdated and inaccurate for people who do not fit the traditional mold of regular, stable employment throughout their careers."
If loans are repaid by workers in full in the first 12 weeks, all interest is waived (effective interest rate of 0 per cent). Otherwise, there is no payment for the first 12 weeks, then payments of $68/week for 40 weeks are required (total repayment of $2,720, or 13.6 per cent annual interest).
But some critics have called the new business "predatory" and likened them to other payday loans-style companies that take advantage of vulnerable people and charge exorbitant fees, leaving customers in crushing, unescapable debt.
some friends pointed out this disgusting new predatory, payday loans-style company specifically targeting gig economy workers pic.twitter.com/Jkm0pMkmkX— Michael DeForge (@michael_deforge) April 29, 2020
Others have expressed similar concerns and called the company "disgusting and exploitative."
But Spoke says the response from customers has been mostly positive since they launched in April.
"They feel we are a partner helping them in ways the big banks won’t," he said. "We respect the way independent workers make a living, and we want to empower rather than penalize them for not having a 9-5 office job favoured by the big banks."
He says in the future, they hope to offer affordable solutions that extend to insurance, mortgages, retirement planning and more.
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