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Lending Solutions for Underwriting the Creator Economy

Yes, it is possible to gain a full view of 1099 earnings from creative platforms like YouTube, Shopify, and Twitch. Argyle’s holistic income data makes it easy.

Labor trends have seen dramatic shifts in recent years, with workers increasingly earning income from nontraditional sources. But while gig platforms like Uber and DoorDash have received substantial attention, focus has only recently fallen on the creator economy — a growing ecosystem of independent creators from artists to influencers posting original content on digital platforms like YouTube, Etsy, and Patreon.
Empowering creative minds is all well and good (we’d say it’s great), but it poses a major challenge for modern lenders. 

When you’re accustomed to relying on regular paychecks to assess an applicant’s eligibility and underwrite a loan, how do you account for irregular wages or paychecks from multiple sources? How can irregular earnings establish trust and reasonably evidence a borrower’s ability to repay?

Below, we break down the problem and explore how Argyle’s comprehensive employment and payroll data — which grants visibility into all of a worker’s income, whatever the source — solves it at its roots.

Updating lending models to account for creative income

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According to a SignalFire survey, almost 3x as many kids now want to be a YouTube star when they grow up, versus an astronaut — and it’s no surprise why. More people than ever before are making a living through sharing aspects of their life with followers. The influencer market alone is currently valued at $8 billion, and it’s expected to rise to $15 billion by 2022. 
While the majority of people are working part time as creators, there is a growing portion of influencers that make 100% of their income through social media.

With these numbers, you’d think creative entrepreneurs would be a top market for loan providers. But legacy data and underwriting models haven’t really kept up with the times, making it difficult for creators to access credit — and difficult for lenders to serve them.

The factors and methods traditional models use to adjudicate a loan — like cash flow, credit scores, and income verification — don’t always mesh with how a creative entrepreneur makes and handles their money.
Creators may also be young, with little to no credit history, manage funds across a variety of app accounts, or don’t have a real supervisor to attest to their employment. Their business revenue — from variable content like blog posts and videos — may not be viewed as a “legitimate” or predictable form of income by a traditional algorithm. They simply don’t fit the mold of what lenders are used to.
So, what’s the solution? A holistic data platform — like Argyle’s — that connects and compiles all of a user’s income, wherever it comes from.

Get income and employment data from some of the largest platforms creatives use to make a living

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With Argyle, you are able to get automated and continuous data after a user connects their creator account, giving you a low lift way to see their whole financial picture. It’s not on users to manually compile paystubs and invoices to prove consistent and foreseeable income (or on you to sort through their documents). Rather, all of their earnings are reported automatically, in real time, and with their fully informed permission — straight from the source. 
Through Argyle Console and/or API you will be able to review over 160 data points on each user. Some points like subscribers, impressions, and revenue by activity are specific to creators and can be crucial when validating an income stream — especially if a user collects revenue from multiple platforms. You can review historical earnings to see how successful a user has been at monetizing their creative endeavors over time, and real-time access to track monetization as it happens. 
Let’s dive into the platforms we currently have a connection to. 

Shopify

With over 1.7 million businesses on the platform, Shopify supports creators looking to start, run and grow a business. This Black Friday alone the company processed nearly $2.9 billion in sales, a 21% increase from Black Friday in 2020. 
Shopify offers multiple payment options for sellers using the platforms, so having a direct connection to a user's Shopify account can simplify the underwriting process for creators running their business on the platform. 

YouTube

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You might be surprised to learn that YouTube is now the second most popular search engine, right behind its parent company, Google. Creators on the platform get paid directly by YouTube by connecting to the YouTube Partner Program or connecting Google Adsense and then allowing ads to be served to regular intervals throughout a video. Creators with a large enough following might also look for sponsors and include product placements throughout.    
With Argyle, you can be as granular as looking into key performance metrics for each video, while also viewing channel statistics holistically, including audience breakdown. We also offer direct deposit switching for users being paid by YouTube, so funds can be sent directly to your bank. 

Twitch 

A live streaming platform, Twitch is primarily used for video game content. The pandemic only accelerated spending around video games and all content around them — in just Q2’20, U.S. consumers spent $11.6 billion on gaming. 
Streamers with a significant following make money from the platform by joining the Twitch Affiliate or Twitch Partner programs. The platform even has a direct donation option for these users. Otherwise streamers will endorse products, include paid promotions, or sell merchandise. 

What’s next?

This is just the first step, as the creator economy grows so do the size of the platforms supporting creators. Argyle is actively working to connect TikTok, Instagram, Patreon, Substack, Twitter, Facebook and more to our API so you can easily include income from these platforms into your process. 

Ready to get creative with your lending solutions?

Argyle offers 100% transparency by building an industry-leading data network of over 1.75M employers, including over 300 payroll, gig, and creative platforms. In the rare case users can’t find an income source, they can seamlessly upload documentation to capture and aggregate their wages. 
We then organize their data and present it in an intuitive package with easily navigable endpoints. Plus, you’ll get instant webhook alerts whenever there’s a change to any of your customers’ data. With Argyle, you can review historical earnings trends, see where funds are being sent, and watch earnings in real-time. 
The Argyle team can help you learn more about our employment and income data and quickly walk you through our process. 
Reach out to learn more — or sign up for a free account, and try our platform out in a sandbox environment.
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