Remember the barter system of the bygone era, where people would exchange goods amongst themselves? Add a dash of technology and we have the present-day shared economy platforms such as Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, and so forth. Interestingly, most of these shared economy platforms do not own any assets, yet are the largest service providers across the world. All they do is provide a platform to the service providers and customers who interact amongst themselves to sell/buy services.
A win-win proposition
Apart from the traditional industries—hotels, hospitality, travel, and transport—many non-traditional services are also available on shared economy platforms. For instance, you can hire people for specific tasks using TaskRabbit, leave dogs at day boarding facilities using DogVacay, share home WiFi using Fon, even borrow cash using LendingClub, and so forth—the list is just too long.
Shared economy platforms leverage the power of technology to enable new-age entrepreneurs to monetize their unused or underused assets using innovative business models. Shared economy platforms promise a win-win proposition for both the providers and the customers. While the providers can realize monetary benefits from their idle assets, the customers can access goods and services without actually buying them.
Boost to entrepreneurial spirit
Shared economy platforms are also boosting employment and fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship. They are successfully enabling people to work to their own schedules without getting tied down to a 9-5 routine. In fact, Harvard Business Review in its report suggests that nearly 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe quit their regular jobs in favour of contractual work.
Growth and fraud
The key factors powering the rapid growth of this shared economy are growing digital literacy and greater access to technology. Smartphones have brought technology right into the hands of the users, which enables them to access these platforms anywhere, anytime. That said there is a darker side of the shared economy ecosystem as well—fraud.
In the next post, we will discuss how fraud affects the shared economy platforms and how it can be prevented. Be sure to check out this space soon.
The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, content and marketing consultant
She can be reached on LinkedIn.