New banks

Lili expands its account options as it goes after more experienced freelancers

  • The demand for freelancer banking may be heating up.
  • Freelancer focused challenger bank Lili is stepping up its game with its launch of Lili Pro.

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Lili expands its account options as it goes after more experienced freelancers

Freelancer-focused challenger bank Lili launched in January 2020. And it's had pretty noticeable growth since.

Users grew by 1,500% in one year, according to the company. Today, the challenger bank has over 200,000 users.

But competition to bank freelancers is growing. Lili may not be sticking out as much. 

Oxygen and Lance are also challenger banks that are zooming in on freelancers, and their features are similar to Lili’s. 

One example is Oxygen’s early pay feature. Another is Lance’s automatic tax withholding.

Lili may be stepping up its game, though. The company has added a new account option, appealing to people at a more advanced stage of the freelancer cycle.

On July 13, Lili announced the addition of a new account option called Lili Pro, geared towards freelancers who are more advanced in their careers. 

  • Unlike the standard Lili account, which is free, this one costs $4.99/month.
  • Lili Pro is free for the first 30 days.


Features unique to Lili Pro

Like the standard Lili account, Lili Pro has no minimum balance, includes about 38,000 ATM locations that don’t require fees, automatically sets aside money for taxes, and allows for payments to show up in your account up to two days before you’re paid.

It also has some new features:

  • Cashback rewards from merchant partners. Some of these are merchants that seem to be geared towards small business and freelance spending. Examples include TaxAct, Microsoft, and Mailchimp.
  • An inbuilt invoicing tool which allows users to create and send out unlimited invoices. For invoices under $1000, Pro offers a feature called DirectPay, which allows clients to pay users directly into their Lili account.
  • Split categorization lets users be more specific in how they categorize business and personal spending. The basic account already has an expense tool that allows users to swipe either left or right on an expense, depending on the category it falls into. For blurry categories, where an expense can fall both into business and personal, users can swipe up, and split that expense into both those categories.
  • BalanceUp allows for overdraft of up to $200 without fees. When a user’s purchase exceeds their account balance by at most $200, Lili covers the difference, then settles the negative balance next time the account holder gets paid. 
  • A savings account with 1% APY, which is an extension of the standard Lili account’s Emergency Bucket. Emergency Bucket is a feature which allows users to set aside a set amount of money into an emergency sub account. Pro’s savings account does the same, but with interest, so that the amount in the account grows steadily.

Lili Pro could be Lili’s attempt to cover more freelance angles 

Lili Pro is geared towards freelancers who, according to Lilac Bar David, CEO and co-founder of the company, are more advanced in their careers. 

“They're growing their business, so they need access to more advanced services, whether it's banking, services, or business tools,” said Bar David. “And that is how we came up with the idea of serving the growth of the business as you move from the initial position of being a freelancer to growing your business.”

As the freelance market heats up, freelance focused FS providers could be getting ready for emerging and existing competition

The global freelance platform market size is expected to reach $9.19 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 15.3%, according to a report by Orbis Research. 

For companies aiming to provide financial services in the space, that may mean it's go time.

It will be interesting to see how these businesses will be able to balance out account perks with the unpredictability a freelance career can often bring.

For instance, when asked what was the hardest Lili Pro feature to implement, Bar David said it was the overdraft perk. And that had to do with income fluctuations that come with being your own boss.

“[We had to make sure] that our risk model is very supportive in regards to the diversification of income and the fluctuation of income and so on. So we are not doing things the traditional way,” said Bar David.

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