In China, the number of freelance couriers, and people who are hiring them, is growing quickly as new apps have been developed to make sending and receiving packages easier for consumers. Finding alternatives to often-slow mail systems is a must for people who need to send items quickly, and the apps seem to be a practical solution.
The “Renren Courier” has given 1.5 million Chinese the opportunity to make some quick cash by working as a courier and “Everyone’s Express” allows anyone over the age of 18 with a smartphone and GPS to be a courier in Shanghai.
While smartphones today can be used for everything from checking social media accounts to gaming, some are now using them to make some extra money as a courier. That is true for Wu Jia who uses public transportation to deliver packages.
“This type of courier is really fast. If I pick up the item myself, I have to take a taxi and come back. This courier is faster than a taxi,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by a 38-year-old surnamed Huang who can earn up to 3,000 yuan a month. He said, “I usually make about 200 yuan a day.”
But though the growth of the new apps seems good for both couriers and consumers alike, there are some concerns.
The Shanghai Postal Management Bureau said at the end of March that they would be keeping an eye on the use of the apps to make sure the industry is not disrupted, and one industry expert expressed concern for the well-being of the couriers themselves.
“The couriers have almost no protection from the company. So what happens if they are injured while making a delivery?” said Xu Yong.
On top of that, security and other issues for the packages are a concern.
“The essence of logistics is security and speed. This new app is good, but we should consider how to guarantee the safety of articles being delivered. I think this might be a problem,” professor He Yue contends. “We also need to have clear regulations on not sending products prohibited by the country.”
Freelancers in a number of industries, particularly as couriers, provide a valuable service to consumers. And, if they are any good, they can make decent money. But as mobile apps are used to speed up services, it is likely that increased regulations and rules will become requirements.