The Sharing Economy has affected many different spaces over the last couple of years. We've seen companies like Uber, Airbnb and Recruitloop give their consumers a different outlook, by giving them convenient access to goods and services. Not something that sits well with everyone, a recent article in The Guardian states, 'At its worst, the sharing economy turns us into perpetual hustlers, cementing our connection to the global market' - but the naysayers cannot deny that 'The Sharing Economy' helps with overconsumption and allows consumers the option to use their resources more efficiently.
Uber, the app-based transportation network, was recently valued at over $40 billion, with the company's business model being emulated to such an extent that it's coined the term, 'Uberification'. Not without its critics, some have claimed that Uber's business model is based on evading regulations and breaking the law. Banned in many countries, Uber is never far from the headlines with some even calling it bad for the economy.
Uber and Lyft have created an environment where it's completely acceptable for an unlicensed cab driver, who've you've never met before, to take you on an hour long journey - surely the exact opposite of what everyone's told when they're growing up. When put like this, travelling with Uber comes across as a real risk, but in our new 'Sharing Economy' trust trumps danger.
Peer to peer collaboration promotes trust between transactions. As a society, we're told to expect the worst when it comes to people that we don't know, so the fact that companies like Airbnb and Uber are valued in the billions demonstrates how much our perception of trust has developed at the hands of the 'Sharing Economy'. This newfound trust creates an environment where collaboration drives down prices and gives people the chance to make money in ways which weren't previously possible.
However, we shouldn't think that companies operating in this space are fine with sharing their profits. Uber and Lyft are already at loggerheads, with Lyft recently accusing Uber of requesting rides from its drivers only to cancel them at the last second. Airbnb has gone from basically being a couch surfing website to an upmarket lifestyle brand that's going into the restaurant business. This has the air of the economic landscape that we're all so accustomed to.
Whether the Sharing Economy will actually completely reshape our economy remains to be seen. What is undeniably true however is that many spaces are being affected by its presence and it will be interesting to see how it develops going into 2015.