The Economist puts the 'sharing economy' on the cover

The Economist© Michael Graham Richard

Going mainstream...

For years we've been talking about renting or borrowing rather than owning. Car-sharing, bike-sharing, AirBNB, product service systems, etc. There are so many things that people own but rarely use; how many power tools are gathering dust in a dark corners when it would be greener and cheaper to just borrow or rent them when they are needed? There are hundreds of similar examples. Thankfully, modern technology is making it easier than ever for people to share and thus get more usefulness out of the things they own. Not everything is rainbows and puppies in the nascent sharing economy, but it's early stage and people are still figuring out the best ways of doing things. This is definitely a movement that will grow by orders of magnitude in the future, so get ready to share!

The Economist writes:

WHY pay through the nose for something when you can rent it more cheaply from a stranger online? That is the principle behind a range of online services that enable people to share cars, accommodation, bicycles, household appliances and other items, connecting owners of underused assets with others willing to pay to use them. Dozens of firms such as Airbnb, which lets people rent out their spare rooms, or RelayRides, which allows other people to rent your car, act as matchmakers, allocating resources where they are needed and taking a small cut in return.

Such peer-to-peer rental schemes provide handy extra income for owners and can be less costly and more convenient for borrowers. Occasional renting is cheaper than buying something outright or renting from a traditional provider such as a hotel or car-rental firm. The internet makes it cheaper and easier than ever to aggregate supply and demand. Smartphones with maps and satellite positioning can find a nearby room to rent or car to borrow. Online social networks and recommendation systems help establish trust; internet payment systems can handle the billing. All this lets millions of total strangers rent things to each other. The result is known variously as “collaborative consumption”, the “asset-light lifestyle”, the “collaborative economy”, “peer economy”, “access economy” or “sharing economy”.

You can read the whole thing here: All eyes on the sharing economy.

See also: Avis to Acquire Car-Sharing Leader Zipcar in $500 Million Deal

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