Back to swapping with the collaborative economy
The famous financial writer Richard Russell did not beat around the bush. He believed that money as we know it will cease to exist and humanity will have no choice but to return to the barter system. The famous writer went further and at the beginning of this decade recommended being bullish with gold, silver, diamonds ... and weapons and to be patient.
Until this apocalyptic view of our lives arrives - or doesn’t - the reality is that our economic system is not sustainable any longer. The world needs a change of structure and the only way out is a model that respects the environment. A possible solution is what we know as a collaborative economy, which is nothing more than a return to the beginnings of humanity where exchanges took place. That is, we travel in time to return to swapping.
This technique was originally aimed at the direct exchange of goods and services without money in between. Now the intention is to recover it to reuse and recycle products in order to reduce consumption. In addition, thanks to new technologies, swapping can be done on a large scale, not only between people from the same place or nearby places, but also across geographical areas.
Many decide to spend the holidays in a stranger’s house and some even venture to spend a different night in their own city discovering what it feels like to sleep in a tree house or a completely robotized home. Others prefer to save gas, reduce CO2 emissions or travel while sharing their car. There are also people who choose to take advantage of their photographic equipment by renting it to other users. Whatever the reason why a person decides to opt for this technique, what is clear is that the collaborative economy is booming. And the data show it.
In Spain alone there are more than 500 businesses that are already based on this model. Together they represent 1.4% of GDP, according to Ernst & Young. In Europe, a report of the European Commission published in 2016 says that the sector moved 28,000 million in 2015 and is expected to increase in this continent in the coming years to reach a figure of between 160,000 and 572,000 million euros. According to the PWC consultancy, the market for this type of business will offer a potential opportunity of 335,000 million dollars by 2025.
Despite these figures, few companies have currently managed to be profitable under the guidelines of the collaborative economy, although it is true that those that have succeeded have done so in a big way. One of the difficulties causing most headaches among entrepreneurs is the lack of legislation protecting them; another is the lack of knowledge about what services can bring in money. Furthermore, the fact of having to bring in offer in addition to the demand, is another challenge to add to this list.
The sectors in which the collaborative economy is possible are very diverse: tourism, culture and leisure, education, mobility, messaging, transport, electronic commerce, banking services ... but according to Ernst & Young, where there is currently the biggest explosion is that related to the purchase and sale of goods (30% - 35%), followed by accommodation and tourism and transport and finance. Here we present some examples.
Airbnb: offer of dwelling between individuals
Its name is the acronym of airbed and breakfast and, without a doubt, it is one of the great examples of the collaborative economy. Since it was launched in 2008, it has achieved a community of more than 200 million guests who enjoy their stays in more than 191 countries around the world. These data have led the Californian company to a market value of 30,000 million. In fact, the platform that promises us that we can feel at home wherever we go, is considered the fourth most valuable start-up in the world. As a user you can choose from two options: to rent a complete house or a room. The second is the choice of many travellers who seek to meet new people and enter the lives of the inhabitants of the city they visit in a more real way.
Amovens: rent your car or share a trip
Amovens was created in Spain in 2009, when BlaBlaCar had not yet reached our country. If you have not heard of it, you will do soon because little by little, and thanks to Bla Bla Car charging a service commission since 2014, more consumers are signing up to this platform. Besides offering user the possibility of sharing trips, since its merger with the Scandinavian GoMore, it has allowed vehicles to be rented from 19 euros a day. Today they already have more than 5,000 cars to rent in our country. However, its main source of income comes from renting for individuals. Through Amovens you can have a new car every 12 months in exchange for a monthly fee and rent it when you are not using it, so you can reduce, for instance, the 208 euros it will cost you (per month) to have a Fiat 500.
WorldCoo: crowdfunding to benefit NGOs
Lack of financing is one of the main problems of NGOs when it comes to survival and Sergi and Aureli, founders of WorldCoo, have experienced it in the first person. Therefore, in 2012, they ventured to create a technology that joins crowdfunding with e-commerce, an idea which, thanks to the support of the Santander Explorer acceleration programme, was able to move forward.
Their business allows buyers of more than 40 e-commerce platforms, such as PcComponentes, Vivinum, Promofarma or Mascoteros, to donate one euro when making their purchase to a specific project, generally related to the sector of the online store where the purchase is being made. In addition, WorldCoo works with companies such as Telefónica to raise money at specific times of emergency. For the moment they have managed to finance 130 projects worth 660,000 since they began in 2012, thanks donations from more than 300,000 people in 35 different countries. Their business model is based on a commission of 8%, which they charge the NGOs when they have financed their projects.
Relendo: don’t buy what you can rent
Want to be a photographer for a day? Film your son taking his first steps? Don’t buy a camera, rent one, because in addition to being one of the principles of the collaborative economy, it is the basis of Relendo, a platform that allows the rental of products between people who are in the same area. They say the best ideas arise from the needs of the entrepreneur, and this is the case of Relendo and its creator, Dhiren Chatlani, who after a stage of his life when he did not stop travelling, forcing him to give up having possessions, had this idea which already has 20,000 registered users, and 15,000 products at their disposal. Its star category is photography and video. In fact, this alone accounts for 60% of its operations, which have Zurich insurance of up to 5,000 euros.