What do bees, cleaner fish and Staffing Industry Analysts have in common? All are examples of “organisms” that mutually benefit a broader competitive ecological or business ecosystem — a phenomenon defined in ecology as “mutualism.” Flowers need bees to help them pollinate, fi sh use cleaner fi sh to remove dead skin and bacteria from their bodies, and various stakeholders within the workforce solutions industry rely on SIA’s data and insights to predict trends and survive in a quickly changing landscape.

A new, mutualistic business ecosystem is developing around the gig economy, providing infrastructure and services that support the needs of various parties involved in actually making a “gig economy” work. A particularly interesting new entrant in this budding ecosystem is Qwil, a San Francisco-based payments platform that allows independent contractors working through various on-demand apps and independent work arrangements to get paid — you guessed it — on demand.

“Right now there are so many independent contractors in the US doing work — 50 million by some estimates — but the challenge is that it can be very difficult for them to actually get paid,” says Johnny Reinsch, co-founder and CEO of Qwil. “Independent workers are either payrolled or treated essentially as a ‘vendor,’ with 30-, 60-, or even 90-day payment terms, and there’s not really a solution in between for contractors that want to get paid right away for work that they’re doing through these gig platforms.”

Qwil seeks to address this conundrum by allowing independent workers to collect on invoices for completed work via their smartphones before they would normally get paid. Workers download an app through which they track earnings and collect as needed. Workers pay a fee, similar to a credit card processing fee, in exchange for the service. The service has no cost for staffing firms, online staffing platforms and enterprises, and can be positioned as a benefit to workers.

Though the business model is nearly as old as commerce (and a service many staffing firms use to manage their cash flow), it’s a relatively new option for independent workers managing their “business of one” and is a welcome innovation for a category of workers largely underserved by traditional financial services firms.

Servicing the needs of gig workers is an area SIA expects to grow robustly. Qwil, founded less than a year ago, is backed by 500 Startups and already boasts tens of thousands of contractors with access to its platform. In June, the firm also announced a strategic partnership with international contractor management firm CXC Global.

The Buzz

As the gig economy grows, businesses like Qwil are positioned to grow right along with it by servicing its stakeholders. While Uber and Lyft and their myriad on-demand brethren battle for dominance, the “cleaner fish” of the gig economy may find themselves positioned best of all.