A fintech canary in the ride-hailing méi kuàng (coal mine).

This week, Chinese ride-hailing juggernaut Didi Chuxing announced that it was rolling out a suite of financial services offerings for both customers and drivers. We’re particularly interested in the driver side of the equation here, because as TechCrunch’s Rita Lau explained, China recently instituted a new legal framework that renders it much more difficult for gig workers to casually participate in the sharing economy. As a result, Didi is responding by offering financial benefits to its drivers as a recruiting and retention tool.  As we monitor the sales points (and valuation) that will accompany Uber’s and Lyft’s attempted IPO plans, we’re eager to see how these companies respond to the multi-dimensional pressures they face. Will they speak to future financial services and benefits (that stop short of full employment status) as a way to keep drivers and blunt the slings and arrows almost certainly to come by unions and worker advocacy groups? Of course, we know that both companies are working hard on their autonomous vehicle programs. But until such programs become a reality, Wall Street is going to want to know how these platforms can motivate its freelance-heavy workforce. It won’t be easy.

This article was published as part of Weekly Briefing No. 156