Posted by Vivienne Hsu on Thu, Jul 07 2016

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Is sharing really caring?

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Thoughts from the latest FT Sharing Economy Summit Europe

Thanks to Uber, that headlining, investment-raising “unicorn”, the “sharing economy” is now a household term, and has been for many years now. But if there is one thing I learned from this week’s FT Sharing Economy Summit Europe, it is that the sharing economy is just getting started. And for the millennial generation, this new business model and way of working is becoming second nature.

Currently, the transport and accommodation sectors are being disrupted and dominated by the sharing economy model. Referencing the dominance of companies such as Uber and AirBnB, Alex Stephany, author of-The Business of sharing: Making it in the New Sharing Economy succinctly summed up the marketplace: “We are in a winners take most, not all, in the sharing economy.”  Indeed, it is important to note that these companies are dominant but not monopolies. For example, Uber has fierce competition by Didi Chuxing, another key ride-sharing app in a key market such as China.

Other rapidly growing segments of the sharing economy include on-demand household services, collaborative finance and on-demand professional services. During the Summit, these new sharing economy companies emerged as “ones to watch”:

  1. Appear Here – turning retail space into new media space
  2. Olio – the food sharing revolution
  3. Vizeat –the AirBnb of dining
  4. Propoly – creating a ecosystem to support all stages of the letting process

And who is leading the charge? According PWC, the UK is at the forefront of Europe’s sharing economy which is set to be worth £140bn by 2025.  And on a progressive note, it was interesting to learn that the UK was, in fact, the first country to provide the first sharing economy tax break.

At the Summit, PwC also spoke extensively on the megatrends that are evolving and colliding together to enable the sharing economy. Some interesting points:

  1. Technological developments – there will be more connected devices than people in 2020!
  2. Climate change and resource scarcity – 1 car club takes 17 private cars off the road
  3. Rapid urbanisation – by 2025 there could nearly 40 cities with a population of over 10 million
  4. Social change – active Facebook user is three times more likely than an non-internet user to think that most people are trustworthy

Looking to the future, there is a clear need for a fresh focus on regulation and clearer laws to guide and evolve the sharing economy.  On this subject, Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director General of the European Commission, emphasised a balanced approach.  He wants to promote the collaborative economy in Europe but recognises that a “one size fits all” approach will not work across all countries. Issues around liability, consumer law, taxation, benefits, market access are all key areas which need to be addressed legally.

My final takeaway from the Summit was that trust is still the single vital ingredient in the sharing economy. It is fundamental to the model and its adoption across the globe – it’s the ultimate model of globalisation.  In this case, sharing really is caring.

Conferences, Economy, Financial Technology, Financial Times, Fintech, Summit,
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