The concept of sharing goods and services with your community as a means of economic transaction is ancient. But thanks to the internet, the concept now has global scale at the click of a button. It’s called the sharing economy.
We’ll give you the run-down on this popular web-based phenomenon and cover some of the ways that you can tap into the sharing economy to find solutions for everyday problems.
What is the sharing economy?
At its most basic, the sharing economy, also known as the collaborative or peer-to-peer economy, is about connecting individuals with resources to others that want them. It often works through lending or borrowing, but can also involve the financial transaction of goods or services. No matter what form it takes, all of the companies participating in the sharing economy provide people with a convenient way to find what they need when they need it.
While the concept of the sharing economy has been around for some time, the advent of apps and smartphone technology means that it’s easier for individuals to participate in peer-to-peer sharing transactions in real time.
The Benefits of the Sharing Economy
There are many reasons why people participate in the sharing economy, but here are a some of the biggest ones:
- More efficient use of resources, as goods that would otherwise sit idle or go to waste can make their way to those that want or need them.
- Gives individuals an opportunity to profit from their assets (such as their home) or their specialized skills by renting them out
- Provides people with access to resources that they’ll only need to use for short, specific periods of time without having to buy or own them.
- A greater sense of community spirit as people come together to help each other out on a peer-to-peer basis
Examples of Sharing Economy Services
Find a Place to Stay
Finding lodging while traveling can be stressful — especially if you’re looking for something on short notice. Thanks to the sharing economy, there are a few popular services that connect people looking to rent out their apartment or home with travelers for as little as a day or two.
There are companies that offer affordable alternatives to a hotel and connect you with locals who can give you a lay of the land. Plus, you can choose to put money in the pocket of a real person rather than a multinational hotel chain.
Find convenient parking
Everyone who’s ever driven in a major city knows that finding parking can be a real pain. Finite parking spaces and exorbitant fees have bred tech-based services that can help you find and even reserve an available parking space.
Whether you’re pressed for time or need to find somewhere to leave the car for a day or two while visiting an unfamiliar city, parking is one more headache the sharing economy is helping alleviate.
Free Up Time with Help on Your Errands
You don’t need to be on the road to reap the benefits of participating in the sharing economy. Peer-to-peer companies can help you handle errands ranging from doing your laundry to grabbing groceries. They’re perfect for anyone who’s willing to part with a little bit of their money to buy some extra free time.
Get (or Offer) Some Help with Specialized Tasks
If you need help completing a task that requires a specialized skill, there are services that can match you with an expert in the area. Why worry about that shelf you put up yourself collapsing when you can rely on the sharing economy to connect you with someone who actually knows what they’re doing? It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
If you’ve got specialized skills of your own you want to put to use, peer-to-peer services let you set up your own “marketplace” where you can offer up your handmade goods or expert services.
A Place for Your Dog to Stay While You’re Away
For pet owners, leaving town on vacation can be a stressful experience. Finding a dog sitter on short notice can be a hassle, and leaving your pet at a kennel might leave you worried about their well-being when you should be relaxing.
Luckily, a little tech-inspired collaboration can offer an elegant solution. Partnering pet owners with willing hosts can give your dog a vacation of their own, with plenty of TLC and space to roam in the home of a fellow pet lover.
Swap Your Stuff Rather Than Buy It
The origins of the ancient sharing economy might be best described as a system of bartering, rather than sharing. That form of economic exchange is making a comeback, thanks to apps that empower you to swap a variety of items with people from all over. Whether it’s a bike, some tools you need for a project, or anything in between, collaborative economies make it easier to access the things you need without cash.
With so many different ways to participate in the sharing economy, there’s no better time to see how you can partner with people in your local community or around the world to start moving your money for better. Of course, if you already know who you want to send money to, we at Western Union are happy to help. Find out how easy it is to send money online from almost anywhere with just a few clicks.