The desire for flexibility in earning money has fueled the gig economy, and this accelerated further during the pandemic – the world started to take remote working more seriously as part of the future-of-work. For some professionals, participating in the gig economy can be considered a side hustle. For some, flexible working or income arrangements are becoming the norm.

In Southeast Asia, more than half of the workforce is considered to be in the informal sector. According to the Asian Development Bank, for instance, 94 percent of workers in Cambodia come from the informal sector. Myanmar has 80 percent, while Thailand has 64 percent of its workforce doing informal work. When it comes to having a side hustle or freelancing work, 33 percent report doing it for financial necessity, while 50 percent say they are driven purely by entrepreneurial spirit.

Meanwhile, in Europe and North America, casual working contracts or zero-hour contracts are also the norm in service industries, which means on-demand employment on a non-commitment basis for both employer and contractor. Such gig work provides flexibility to earn extra income without necessarily burdening either party when there is not enough demand.

While gig work comes in many forms, there is one thing in common. The digital economy provides ways to meet the growing demands for income. In this article, we will discuss three innovative ways to earn money from digital platforms, including staking, leveraging your computing resources for rewards, and AI-powered wealth management platforms.

Staking as a form of securing a blockchain network

Blockchains and cryptocurrency could not exist without benefits for those who maintain the infrastructure, and staking is one of the ways that open opportunities for contributing to the network and earning at the same time. Staking involves locking up one’s cryptocurrency holdings to secure the blockchain network in proof-of-stake class consensus mechanisms.

Staked cryptocurrency acts as a form of collateral, providing a means to verify transactions and maintain the network’s integrity for those that use blockchains that use proof-of-stake (PoS) as verification mechanisms. Some examples of networks that use PoS include Ethereum, which switched from proof-of-work to PoS in 2022 during the Ethereum Merge, cutting its energy usage and improving performance.

The shift toward PoS is driven primarily by the growing emphasis on sustainability, as this eliminates the energy and resource-intensive mining process utilized by legacy blockchain technologies like Bitcoin. Beyond that, it also provides an easier path toward participation. There is lesser need to spend a lot of resources on expensive mining rigs and other specialized equipment.

“Post-Merge, Ethereum transactions will be verified not by miners performing computations, but by validators locking up (staking) their own money (in ETH form) as collateral to ensure that they perform the verification diligently and honestly,” Coins.PH Chief Executive Officer Wei Zhou wrote in an earlier TNGlobal editorial. “In return, validators that successfully add blocks to the blockchain earn monetary rewards for their work.”

Interest in staking has risen with news of investment giants like Blackrock filing for a Bitcoin Spot Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), as well as similar attempts to apply for SEC approval for Ethereum ETFs. The main challenge with staking mechanisms is that individuals or institutions who want to benefit from staking need existing cryptocurrency holdings to stake in the first place. Traditional staking mechanisms will require a certain number of tokens to be locked up as collateral to validate transactions. This will mean limited liquidity during the staking process.

To some extent, this makes staking a wealth-preserving mechanism, which leads us to consider other options for potential wealth-generation.

Lending spare resources for passive income

Having passive income is perhaps the most ideal scenario, whether as a side gig or as a main source of income. Traditional means of passive income include renting out property and investing one’s money in financial instruments. Web3 technologies also provide digital equivalents to this.

For example, studies suggest that around 30 percent of cloud computing resources are idle or unutilized on average, with laptops and smartphones demonstrating a similar level of under-utilization. This translates to a massive pool of excess computing power that could be otherwise harnessed. Thanks to decentralized physical infrastructure networks or DePINs, individuals could now rent out this idle computing power.

This unlocks a potential revenue stream for individuals and organizations who contribute spare processing cycles from their devices. Meanwhile, for those in need of computing power, this provides a cost-effective and powerful computational solution for use cases like research, data processing, AI computing, and the like.

This goes beyond simple sharing of computing resources, as with the example of Koii. Its global network of over 70,000 nodes powers its K2 Layer 1 blockchain network dedicated to AI and DePIN. This translates to a secure and scalable infrastructure for building DePIN apps, with the advantage of being able to utilize data from its nodes for AI inference, bandwidth data, and more.

“Given the significant demand expected from AI amid the growth in complexity and popularity of applications, such a crowdsourced platform can help address the growing demands of AI workloads, leading to reduced costs associated with AI model training and large-scale data processing,” says Al Morris, Founder of Koii.

Developers can thus benefit from higher-quality data, reduced data cleaning and training requirements, and more sustainable operations. Meanwhile, users who “rent out” their computing power are provided tokenized rewards for participating in the DePIN, including stablecoins. This particular approach to distributed computing is used in the partnership between Mask Network and Koii, where Koii nodes are utilized to compile social feeds, aiming to improve privacy in social media viewing and browsing. This collaboration is dedicated to developing a browser environment focused on privacy and using Koii nodes for broad news aggregation and machine learning tasks.

Generating returns with AI wealth-management platforms

AI is already finding its way into various industries, and FinTech and wealth management are no exception. AI-powered wealth management solutions offer sophisticated algorithms that analyze market trends, manage portfolios, and provide personalized financial advice.

For instance, Standard Chartered recently launched its Next176 platform to provide AI-driven wealth management solutions to users in MENA.

Such wealth management solutions democratize access to financial services. Robo advisors, for one, often provide cost-effective solutions to individual users, which can be significantly less costly than traditional financial advisors, making this service accessible across income brackets. In addition to cost, AI solutions provide convenience, as they are available 24/7.

Beyond cost and convenience, the main advantage of AI-driven solutions is the ability to tailor-fit portfolio management and risk assessment based on an individual’s financial goals and risk tolerance. With AI algorithms, a robo advisor can, for example, generate diversified portfolios based on user preferences and then adjust these as markets change. This results in a highly personalized investment experience that was previously only available to wealthy clients.

“By using AI strategically to augment human expertise, financial institutions can strike the right balance between technological innovation and personalized financial guidance, ultimately benefiting both their clients and their bottom line,” writes Mike Sha, Co-founder and CEO of SigFig.

New avenues to earn

With Web3, decentralization, and AI, digital solutions are not only reshaping the concept of work, but these are also making income opportunities more accessible to users, while also providing significant benefits to technology users on both individual and institutional levels. Whether the driving force is necessity, entrepreneurial spirit, or simply taking advantage of flexibility, these tech-driven strategies offer potential rewards for those willing to explore the possibilities.

TNGlobal INSIDER publishes contributions relevant to entrepreneurship and innovation. You may submit your own original or published contributions subject to editorial discretion.

Featured image: Unsplash

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