On-demand pay services should be accessible to all

This January, I finished my degree in psychology and social behavior and moved to Nevada to start a new job as a medical case manager at a small clinic. While I was excited to finally be able to start work in the field, the move was expensive and stretched my budget. 

Anyone who has moved for a new job knows just how stressful and expensive it can be. I’ve always budgeted and been good with money, but I was faced with so many expenses in a short period of time. I didn't know how I was going to cover my last rent check and put down a deposit for a new apartment in Nevada while waiting for my first paycheck from my new job to arrive. After spending down my savings, my mind turned to where I’d find $50 just to feed myself for the week.

Thankfully, I found a new financial tool called on-demand pay, which was a lifeline to me during the pandemic and helped with my move. The service is simple: It allows workers to get paid for the hours they’ve already worked — without waiting the traditional two weeks for their paycheck to arrive. I used a service from Earnin called Cash Out, which helped me avoid turning to a payday lender, asking family for cash or being forced to pay an overdraft fee. I was able to access wages I had already earned when I needed it, without having to take out a predatory high interest loan or worry about my credit score going down. (Earnin allows you to do this for $0, and gives you the option to tip if you like the service.) Then, on payday, Earnin deducted the earnings I had accessed from my bank account. 

This tool was a huge relief to me and made my move to Nevada possible. It helped me pay my bills and cover the basics like food and gas, and also pay for unexpected expenses as a result of the move, reducing my financial stress. It really made a difference for me and saved me from high bank fees, which is why I left a tip. 

Recently, I learned that legislation has been introduced in the state Senate (SB198) that could jeopardize on-demand pay services by favoring those that only work with large corporate employers and well-known payroll providers, but would leave people like me, teachers, small business employees, students and gig workers out in the cold. Not only am I concerned that this would limit my personal access to this financial tool that helps me budget, but I think all services of this kind should compete on a level playing field to win over new customers. 

Unlike predatory payday lenders which charge high interest rates, penalties for nonpayment and report people to credit agencies, on-demand pay actually helps consumers avoid a cycle of debt. So why would the Legislature not protect this tool for all Nevada workers, not just the ones employed by large corporations? If the legislation passes, on-demand pay will only be available to people who work at companies that partner with employee-integrated on-demand pay providers, excluding everyday workers like me. Earnin, which has a direct relationship with customers, is a great option and should be protected in Nevada.

Critics of on-demand pay services like to pretend it is the same as payday lenders, but that is completely false. Name a payday lender that allows you access to your money for no fee and allows you to choose how much to tip (spoiler: you can’t). Name a payday lender that allows you to access your own money without taking out a high interest loan (spoiler: none do!). 

If I hadn’t found Earnin, I fear that I would have had to turn to a payday lender or some other type of loan. Instead, I was able to rely on the wages I had already earned. This kept me on track financially and I can tell you hands down it is my preferred way to cover the basic expenses like groceries that don’t wait for payday. 

I am asking our legislators not to take on-demand pay away from us small business employees. Stand up and fight for this financial tool that is helping people like me. 

Mariana Rivera, 25, lives in Clark County.