49 KRISTEN BERMAN / BRAD SWAIN Control vs. Ease of Use: Low-Income Customers Weigh In on Financial Services Twenty-first century financial tools share a preference for automated functioning. This is evident in everything from bill pay to round-up savings plans. New tools use automatic features to make life easier for consumers. But evidence shows that this increasingly does not work for everyone. Low-income consumers and those with uneven cash flow are hesitant to participate because their need for control of their cash flow outweighs the potential benefits of automation. So how do we reconcile this seeming disconnect? Does “control” outweigh “ease of use”? We recently needed to understand this at a deeper level in order to help design a tax savings solution for Payable, a 1099 payments company serving the growing gig economy. THE CASE FOR AUTOMATION W-2 workers automatically have their income, Social Security, disability and other payments deducted by their employer, leaving them with a “net” pay. By comparison, the 54 million contractors in the gig economy in America are responsible for managing all those tax payments themselves. This clearly takes time and mental energy to manage. So, it was no surprise that our 2016 survey showed that almost 50 percent of 1099 workers wanted an automatic mechanism to help them save for their quarterly tax payments. THE CASE FOR CONTROL Most 1099 workers have high-income volatility. Over the course of a year, a contractor’s income fluctuates 10 times, Photo: WOCinTech Chat via Flickr.