A surging interest in sharing trends
We are currently living in an age where digitized solutions are affecting all corners of our day-to-day lives, from social media to the latest smart appliances. But in recent years their impact has gone even beyond the personal realm; things once thought untouchable by tech innovations, like the economy and how we see our relation to it, have also been engulfed by the digital sphere.
You see, because of tech innovations, more and more people in more and more countries are moving away from the mindset that when you buy a house or own a car you have ‘made it in life’, and are shifting towards a less-is-more, collaborative point of view, leaving ownership behind.
The growth of the sharing economy
This is a result of the innovations of the sharing economy. What is that exactly? It is an economic system in which companies act as facilitators to make transactions of services and payments possible between service providers and the people who require their services, all through websites and apps.
The website Upwork, for example, specializes in helping writers and graphic designers connect with business owners looking to hire their services for different projects. And the car sharing services Uber and Lyft allows individual drivers to operate like a taxi service through an app on their phone, through which they find clients and get paid.
The sharing economy is one of the fastest growing business trends in history; since 2010 investors have allocated more than $23 billion in venture capital funding to startups operating within a share-based model. And data shows that its mobility segment alone (the segment concerning the sharing of transportation vehicles) was already worth nearly $54 billion in 2016 in the three main global regions: China, the US and Europe. And it is predicted to keep growing between 15% and 28% a year in those regions up to 2030.
Can this work in Curaçao?
But with the sharing economy being such a lucrative business model in large countries and economies, one has to wonder: is a small island like Curaçao ready for this type of economy?
Let’s look at the sharing system in place for scooters and e-cars in cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, for example. There you can pay to use them with an app, pick them up at a location and then simply leave them at the location where you are when you are done using them. How would that work in Curaçao?
Before delving into this matter, let us look at two ways such an economy can make an impact:
1. The attractive cost-saving incentives
For some, owning a car that comes with interest, fees and insurance can become a significant cost burden. Using services like Uber and Lyft spares them this expense. This also comes in handy when they are travelling to foreign countries where these services are available, which is many. In addition to this, travel prices are notably reduced and often come with a better experience when one makes use of services like Airbnb, a service in which people rent out their apartments or houses, or a room in their apartments or houses, to vacation-goers.
And, when building a business, expensive equipment is usually not worth the price of ownership, so in the sharing economy model, many companies can make these equipment readily available through a quick and cheap rental, saving startups an unnecessary and often sizable expense at the beginning of their trajectory.
2. A unique opportunity to go greener
Sustainability has become a prime focus of the quickly emerging sharing economy. One hundred scooters that sit in one garage for a year aren’t getting a fraction of use (or monetary income) of a single scooter that share-based companies are providing, and the car sharing services are removing thousands of cars from the street and thus curbing emissions. This goes a long way in combating the effects of global warming.
And for business owners: if they purchase computers for their company based on growth forecasts that don’t work out the way they had hoped, they may end up with many idle computers. And that’s where sharing comes in, they can rent computers as they scale up; this strategy will ensure their projects are profitable and they will also significantly reduce the amount of e-waste (discarded computers) that will later end up in landfills, which is also damaging to the environment.
The challenge for Curaçao
Now that we have covered what a sharing economy is and how it can make an impact, let’s look at some hard facts when it comes to putting it into effect in Curaçao. To implement such an economy, a country must have the proper infrastructure in place and the assets and services must be able to be shared safely. Does Curaçao comply with those factors?
While Airbnb does already exist on the island, it has yet to capture the public’s imagination. And the question remains, can the sharing economy spread to other industries like the sharing of transportation vehicles?
So we once again ask the question: How would the sharing system set in place for scooters in Rotterdam and Amsterdam work in Curaçao?
Would the scooters get vandalized or stolen? And how would those scooters be transported to their starting location? Would they be neatly structured or eventually dumped pell-mell on a patch of terrain without any clear pattern? And what about a company like Uber? Would it able to survive the likely onslaught of disgruntled taxi-drivers on the island?
What are your thoughts?