If you want to benefit from direct cash transfers or a universal basic income right now, you have to live in one of the areas where various governments or nonprofits are running pilot programs to test the idea. Not that many people have won that geographic lottery. But now there’s a chance for anyone to volunteer for a guaranteed income program, one that you both can benefit from—and help support.
A new app called Comingle plans to offer this online community approach to guaranteed income. Members will contribute 7% of their weekly earnings to a general fund, which is then divided among all the members via a weekly payout. Those on the lower-earning end will receive more money than they pay in. For those with higher incomes, they might put more into the fund than they get back, but Comingle founders Conrad Shaw and Josh Worth hope the benefit of helping others is enough of a draw to participate. Plus, that person might receive a net-positive payout in the future, if bigger earners join the platform or if they fall on financial troubles themselves.
“It doesn’t require any legislation to happen, it doesn’t require any nonprofit funding. It’s not built on a charity model,” says Shaw, a filmmaker currently working on a documentary about his own UBI pilot program in which he crowdfunded money to pay 20 people a weekly basic income over two years, and creator of the UBI calculator. “It’s built on a community and solidarity and inclusivity model—that we’re all in this together. Our unofficial motto is ‘strength in numbers.’”
You don’t need to have an income to join or benefit, either. There is a $2 minimum contribution, but for those without an income, Comingle will deduct that $2 out of their dividend, and they’ll still come out ahead. “For people that are working, the freedom that comes with knowing you’ve got a guarantee of a certain amount of money gives you that little extra cushion to be able to start pursuing things for reasons beyond just being able to pay your bills,” says Worth. Regular cash payments could also add stability to freelancers—like Worth, a freelance graphic designer—who often experience ups and downs with their income. When a freelancer gets paid, they’ll pay more into the Comingle fund that week, and those weeks when they aren’t earning money, they’ll still receive a Comingle payout.