The sharing economy is quickly becoming the norm for many types of transactions that would normally have involved a company. Also sometimes called shared services, this model connects consumers who want a service or product with other consumers who can provide it. While the types of exchanges can vary, and regulations are often lacking, it’s a component of modern-day life that shows no signs of abating. Fueled by a desire to control their own experiences on a timetable that meets their needs, the sharing economy is made possible by the mobility that punctuates life today.
China Is The World Leader In Online Sharing Services.
Though the United States has sharing businesses such as Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, Asia — as a whole — offers innovative services that bridge many gaps that exist in life today. In China alone, estimates place the number who have used an online sharing service at about half of the country’s 1.4 billion people. Over the next few years, this sharing economy is expected to maintain a healthy 40 percent rate of growth.
Not surprisingly, China already maintains the world’s largest sharing economy with nearly $26 billion invested last year alone. In fact, in just two short years, it’s expected that online sharing services will provide 100 million people with jobs. Of those, about 20 million will be considered employed full time. By 2020, about one-tenth of the country’s gross domestic product is expected to come from the sharing economy.
China gave the world the convenience and mobility of bicycles enabled with GPS so they can be both rented and returned anywhere. Currently, the two largest companies that facilitate ride sharing — Ofo and Mobike — are worth more than $1 billion each. Both companies expanded into the Singapore market in early 2017.
A key factor of their success in China and the rest of Asia is that many of these sharing companies sprouted from homegrown ventures that mushroomed in growth enough to expand across their countries and even the continent. Didi Chuxing, a ride-sharing business that soared past Uber in success, got its start as a business started at home. These days, Didi Chuxing is tapping into the availability of smartphones as well as streamlined mobile payment systems to share a plethora of services and goods.
Millennials Embrace The Sharing Economy.
Not surprisingly, the millennials in Asia are fueling the “rent, don’t buy” mentality that makes the online sharing system a success. Extremely tech savvy and innovative entrepreneurs, if there’s a need, it’s likely that someone will apply it to the sharing economy.
Home Cook, for example, not only provides a commodity in a sharing environment, it brings people together in a community that they might otherwise miss out on. The platform has had some growing pains as well though. The government is still scrambling to update applicable laws in such a way that protects people without stifling the growth of the industry.
Currently, Home Cook has about 2 million users registered on its platform and 23,000 home chefs. The company noted that protecting the safety of the food that’s served is an ongoing challenge. Before a user can become a Home Cook chef, they must take a course on food hygiene and kitchen sanitation. They might also be subjected to unexpected checks and every order is insured against possible food poisoning. In spite of these safeguards, Home Cook operates in a legally ambiguous environment.
The Chinese government recently issued new mandates that are designed to remove many of the barriers that could stifle the sharing economy. These are paving the way for other online sharing innovations to follow in the footsteps of Didi Chuxing, Mobike and Ofo in terms of expanding their reach.
For its part, Home Cook recently began offering its services in a seventh city, Changsha. This is in part due to the relaxing of the governmental requirements for managing and licensing those chefs who work out of their homes.
The sharing economy is here to stay. Following China’s lead enables anyone to start a small business from their home and realizing unlimited potential. All it takes is finding an unmet need and a desire to fill it.