The Underbelly of the Sharing Economy
Thanks to the sharing economy you can pretty much get anything you need on demand and best of all to access this world all you need to own is a Smartphone. Who would complain about that?
Not all news about the sharing economy is good and there are some that have real concerns with this new economy of consumption.
There is not a lot of sharing going on when the wealth is very unevenly distributed as the economic value being generated by this new model of business is not shared equally with all participants. There are a small number who are getting rich through simply providing a platform and benefiting from a larger group who are working harder to deliver a service. The concern is that these platforms are taking advantage of people who need to make some extra cash, impacted by high unemployment of rises in the costs of living.
Then there are the regulators and courts who are looking to provide frameworks or laws that will force these platforms away from their original business models. As the sharing economy is forced to go mainstream, it risks losing the very thing that attracted people in the first place. It is not the lower costs that we all like about the sharing economy, it is the unique experience that someone will provide when they are taking an asset that they own and using it to provide a service to someone they don’t know.
The sharing economy is not equal for all to participate. A Federal judge in the US has ruled that Uber must defend against a lawsuit accusing the service of discriminating against blind people by refusing to transport guide dogs.
Last but not least we cannot forget those who abuse the goodwill of those who choose to participate in the sharing economy. Recently a Calgary couple who rented out their family home on Airbnb for the weekend returning to find it completely destroyed after the guests used their home to host a drug induced orgy.
There is a lot to like about the sharing economy, but what glitters is not always gold so the bigger this economy becomes the more barriers that companies that participate in this economy will have to overcome! Although with the sharing economy predicted to be worth $355 billion by 2025 there is a lot of reasons for existing companies to fight to maintain their original business models.