The Rise of the Sharing Economy
Why dive deep into your pockets to pay for something when you can rent it at a much lower cost from somebody online? Sharing is fast becoming a global business trend as people all over the world are using the Internet to share all manner of goods from cars, bikes, and tools, to clothes, couches, and apartments.
This is the sharing economy, also known as peer-to-peer marketplaces or collaborative consumption. The central tenant is that access to tools, goods, and services is more important than actually owning them. It’s being driven by a combination of factors: the global economic crisis, environmental concerns about producing too much stuff, the rise of social media, and sheer common sense practicality.
Sharing of course is not a new idea; it is a basic human activity. But what has changed is that it can now be done on a massive scale.
We are used to such classic forms of sharing as libraries and video stores. But these are fast fading into the background as individuals can easily share their property and possessions with the help of the web.
Benefits of the Sharing Economy
There are numerous benefits: it promotes a flexible lifestyle, there is less financial outlay, and relationships can form between people who wouldn’t have met otherwise. For the consumer, sharing is an efficient way of getting the things you want when you want them.
The sharing economy is also unlocking the value in things we already have and in some cases where none previously existed. For example, a depreciating asset such as a car can now be a source of income for the owner.
The environment can come out a big winner too. By sharing more we ultimately produce fewer things which results in less waste and lower carbon emissions. Resources are finite and there’s more than enough to go round.
The sharing economy faces one challenge that vexes and concerns many people, and that is trust. Will someone trash my home, steal my possessions or damage my car? These are of course legitimate fears, and whilst there are no industry security standards most sharing communities are self-policing and many sharing platforms have security measures in place. Most, if not all require detailed profiles of both parties and some have community rating systems, similar to how people rate sellers on eBay.
The poster child of the sharing scene is Airbnb. Founded in 2008, it allows people to rent out their apartment when they’re not in use. Whilst people have been renting their primary residences and vacation homes for years, Airbnb removed many of the logistical problems to make it a streamlined and cost-effective process.
Other popular companies on the sharing scene include Car2go a car sharing platform in North American and European cities. Wheelz allows you to rent cars from people in your neighbourhood, lyft is on-demand ride sharing, and TaskRabbit connects you with people in your district who will do jobs and errands for you.
The Key to Sharing
There’s no doubt about it the sharing economy is picking up steam, but one of the things that is missing is keys. They are fundamental to many of the things we do and share. You need keys to unlock cars, homes, bikes, and storage facilities.
When it comes to sharing homes with strangers arranging for the pickup and drop off of keys can be an irritating process. You arrange a time, but have to wait around for ages as people get caught up in traffic and turn up late. Or you risk your valuable by leaving keys under a doormat, or rock in the front yard. Thieves love it when people do this.
Step in Keycafe, a new company on the sharing scene that is solving these problems. The service is easy to use. If people need access to your home whether it’s visitors, family or friends you can attach your keys to the NFC enabled keychain and then drop them off at a participating café. Your guests pick them up at any time and maybe grab a coffee in the process. It’s convenient for you and them. For visitors to your neighbourhood, what better introduction to an area than dropping into a local coffee bar.
Sharing is contagious and it’s moving us all toward a place where we waste less and utilize our assets more. It also brings people and societies closer together. Sharing is a win-win situation all round that will help to create a fairer and more sustainable world.