It is an unfortunate fact that living paycheck to paycheck is a reality for most Americans. According to a recent report by CareerBuilder, 78 percent of American workers admit to living paycheck to paycheck. More surprising, even families earning six figures are struggling to cover monthly expenses. A recent Nielsen study found that one in four families making $150,000 a year or more are also living paycheck to paycheck.
Similarly, Canadians share this trend with 54 percent living paycheck to paycheck (BDO Canada Affordability index). While more than a quarter (27 percent) struggle to have enough for their daily necessities, 25 percent of the overall country suffers from debt.
“ Our goal is to completely transform the rental experience and go from a payment solution to a risk management solution for property managers and a way for tenants to take control of their finances all in one platform”
The global COVID-19 crisis has made the household financial situation even more difficult. Now, with the recent downturn in the economy and skyrocketing unemployment, more and more families are worrying about how they will pay their bills.
As recently as February, the US enjoyed an unprecedented unemployment rate that stood at a multi-decade low of 3.5 percent. With each passing week, an increasing amount of Americans are filing for unemployment. Now, more than 30 million Americans have applied for first-time unemployment, and the Federal Reserve estimates that up to 47 million jobs could be lost in the second quarter alone, with more as the crisis unfolds throughout the year.
The Hardest Hit
As most people are asked to stay home, millions are now unemployed and are faced with the grim reality that they may not be able to afford rent. It is impossible to “shelter in place” when you cannot afford shelter.
Property managers have mortgages to pay as well, and lenders are less likely to tolerate missed payments. The economic hardships we face today are an issue that affects tenants and property managers alike.
Layoffs are unavoidable, especially during an economic crisis. Though the problem affects North Americans from all walks of life, many are more vulnerable than others.
A recent Pew Research Center report shows that minorities are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs and industries at high risk of layoffs like retail, hospitality, recreation, and manufacturing.
These issues have been widespread for decades but were easy to overlook while the economy was humming along. The current economic crisis has amplified the disparity and has contributed to the rising inequality and housing insecurity.
Historically when faced with adversity we have risen to the occasion, many times with disruptive solutions to the problems of the day. This most recent instance of dire circumstances will be no different.
Hitting Back Harder
For Karthik Manimozhi, these struggles were a reality. Growing up in a lower-middle-class family in India, he identifies with the struggles many face today. “I remember the number of times my father, an honest government officer, was forced to borrow money from friends and family. He was always fiscally responsible, disciplined, and a great role model. My parents made incredible sacrifices to provide a brighter future for myself and my sisters,” he recalls.
Just a little over 100 days ago, Manimozhi took over as CEO of RentMoola—a leader in the rental solutions space—with the lofty goal to alleviate the effects of income inequality and housing insecurity.
RentMoola has already established itself as a provider of simple, efficient, and secure technology—used by over 220 property managers representing ~250,000 Rental units and 50,000 active monthly users—to streamline the rent payment process.
Every solution on our roadmap is aimed at solving the issues that most severely impact people’s lives, and more importantly helping the most vulnerable in our societies around the world
“Having experienced financial instability myself, these issues are personal. To the average family, an unexpected spend of $200 can send them into a financial spiral. These hard-working breadwinners work multiple jobs just to make ends meet” emphasizes Manimozhi.
“Enabling good relationships between the renter and landlord was only one piece of the puzzle. We are taking an already successful and stable platform and scaling its capabilities to take on a bigger challenge,” Manimozhi explains.
A Rental Revolution
“The increased lack of liquidity is bringing out trends that will change the rental industry as we know it. Now, there is a need for digitization of payments to allow for contact-free transactions, adoption of credit solutions to preserve cash in the bank accounts, and at a time where renters can easily fall prey to predatory offers and payday loans, a better, more customer-centric solution is crucial,” Manimozhi said.
“The national crisis existed way before the pandemic” Manimozhi said, “though we are focused on moving quickly to address immediate needs, our current and future solutions are geared towards solving the widespread problem that has existed beforehand.” As an award-winning payment solution, Manimozhi recognizes the incredible potential to expand the capabilities of the RentMoola platform and transform it into a comprehensive, simple, secure one-stop-shop where customers can take control of their finances.
Under Karthik’s leadership, the past few months have been transformative. “The need is there, and the changes we have made in the past few months are creating tremendous impact,” informs Manimozhi.
One of the many innovative new solutions on the platform is the ability for tenants to access a line of credit and for property managers to access working capital for businesses. An industry first, these solutions allow for maximum flexibility with as many choices as possible to provide liquidity to its users.
Background check and credit check services are now available on the platform and credit bureau reporting service along with other features are coming soon. These improvements have allowed the company to grow in a short period of time. The company has seen a large influx of users since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the user base increasing by 25 percent and over 160 percent growth in net revenue from the same period last year.
These new solutions open opportunities to a large portion of the renter population that—due to various reasons such as low or even no credit scores or one-off criminal charges—are unable to find a place to live. Manimozhi stresses, “These renters are not fiscally irresponsible people. Many of them are hard-working people, single mothers, honest people who work two jobs to earn a living.”
Though the company has made momentous strides, it is just the beginning. Many other solutions are lined up to be added to the platform, all geared towards their mission to provide better financial solutions to renters. “Our goal is to completely transform the rental experience and go from a payment solution to a risk management solution for property managers and a way for tenants to take control of their finances all in one platform.”
“These are just some of the new capabilities that have now been integrated into RentMoola’s solutions,” Manimozhi stresses, “We are disrupting the space, and it’s about time someone created a solution to these long-running issues.”
One of the biggest developments in RentMoola’s evolution into an integrated platform is their strategic alliance with PayPal. Both are committed to providing customers flexibility and better experiences.
Through this alliance, RentMoola’s platform will allow for secure payment options through a simple, secure, and integrated solution leveraging PayPal’s full range of consumer business solutions including their digital wallet.
PayPal has more than 130 million active accounts in the US and more than 7 million active accounts in Canada, opening more flexible solutions for renters to pay and for property managers to keep track of rent payments.
Win-Win for Tenants and Property Managers Alike
The current economic situation affects tenants and property managers alike. It is easy to be less empathetic about landlord’s needs during this time, but in reality, they also face financial distress due to costs including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and mortgage payments.
The new solutions from RentMoola are geared towards mutual benefit for tenants and property managers alike. Property managers can now take advantage of PayPal to monitor their rent payments and be able to provide their tenants with more flexibility.
“We really put our users first as we create recession-proof solutions, where property managers get paid and customers survive a cash crunch,” says Manimozhi, before adding that the key to beating recession is “a new source of liquidity,” which RentMoola is providing its users.
Global Solutions for Global Issues
“This collaboration is just one of our first steps in fulfilling the company’s mission to provide holistic financial solutions that are built with customers in mind. We are moving fast—especially now that we are faced with a global crisis, we are rising to the occasion” said Manimozhi.
RentMoola is a strong proponent of growing through strategic collaborations “Through these collaborations, we can organically grow our services and reach. We are able to service underserved communities and provide a way for them to take control over their finances.” he continues.
The issues we face are not exclusive to North America. Financial instability has been a long-standing issue that has plagued societies around the world. Today, there is a great deal of uncertainty how devastating the COVID-19 impact will be on public health, economic growth, and financial markets.
RentMoola is building a global infrastructure that will allow its platform to reach emerging markets across the UK, India, Latin America, and other parts of Asia. Through their many partnerships, RentMoola will be able to make an immediate impact in these blossoming rental communities.
“Every solution on our roadmap is aimed at solving the issues that most severely impact people’s lives, and more importantly helping the most vulnerable in our societies around the world. This is what drives us here at RentMoola” Manimozhi reiterates.
When the status quo we are surrounded by fails, we must rise to the challenge to break free from what holds us back. Today, we are faced with the greatest challenge of our generation, and RentMoola is determined to rise to the challenge and usher in a new age in the rental market.