As the global economy fully embraces the digital market, we are seeing new and innovative methods of exchange. Chief among these emerging markets is the sharing economy, which includes industry leaders like Uber and Airbnb.
The gist is simple; a peer-to-peer network of users where goods and services can be bought or sold. These services are currently dependent on disparate fiat currencies and the somewhat ponderous process of transferring funds between various companies. Blockchain technology offers a solution that integrates all aspects of the sharing economy seamlessly.
Newly integrated sharing systems
Forbes has recently covered several new sharing economy businesses that have caught the public eye. Any industry with a high price of entry has the potential to support such a system. These companies take the original idea of the sharing economy and apply it to new industries.
Rover, and their recent acquisition DogVacay, provide dog sitting, boarding and walking services. This service is sorely needed when dog owners do not have friends or family willing to watch their pet. It helps that they are highly selective about their potential dog sitters, requiring thorough background checks and interviews.
Bringing peer-to-peer networking to the financial loans sector, Lending Club allows individuals to loan money directly to others through their platform. Their internal ecosystem allows users to purchase a fraction of a loan, and in turn gain the interest due on that fraction over the life of the loan.
Slightly different than the other companies listed, Pace provides a bike sharing service. Anyone can purchase one of Pace’s smart racks, theoretically helping to drive business to that location. Each bike has a smart lock that is integrated with their phone app, allowing seamless sharing.
A secure system through blockchain technology
Blockchain exists for more than just digital currency. The financial industry has recently become more receptive to blockchain technology and many pundits believe it shows great promise in reducing transfer times and fees alike.
The sharing economy, comprising primarily millennials, is the perfect fit for a new payment resolution system. Blockchain provides this service by integrating a lightning fast, easily verifiable and trust-less payment system that works cross-border. While fiat currency must be exchanged at a hefty fee for use in other countries, blockchain systems are almost universally global.
A currency issued by a private institution runs the risk of fraud or embezzlement, whereas blockchain technology avoids this through decentralization. Once a blockchain is available, it requires a support network of remote nodes that process transactions and validate the ‘chain’ in tandem.
A certain number of these nodes are required to form a consensus before a transaction can be fully validated. This process has the potential to integrate all of the various arms of the sharing economy into one complete marketplace. While Uber and Airbnb both take a cut of the profits, a blockchain based service would have no such need – the middleman is cut out completely by an autonomous system.
The blockchain Amazon of the sharing economy
Their plan is to create a universal ecosystem where anything can be shared. Whereas Uber and Airbnb both have two distinct classes of user – buyers and sellers – ShareRing blurs this line. A user could use ShareRing to rent out their spare room in return for value inside of the ShareRing ecosystem. That value could then be used to arrange for a ride service.
This is the true essence of a sharing economy, where no currency needs to change hands at all. Billed as the Blockchain Amazon of Sharing, ShareRing seeks to impact the sharing economy as Amazon did the e-commerce industry.
This opens up an avenue for the average person to jump into the sharing economy. Someone apprehensive about committing to a ride sharing service, for example, could join ShareRing’s system and generate internal value by sharing some of their own items.
This could be a bike, a lawnmower or even services like cooking or cleaning. Through this marketplace, they wouldn’t necessarily need to commit any fiat currency and could still take part in the sharing economy.
The future of the sharing economy
The mindset of the average millennial is already primed for a sharing economy. They have grown up in a world where resources are relatively scarce – not everyone owns a car, and certainly not everyone can own a vacation home.
The sharing economy creates a way for everyone to enjoy these perks at a fraction of the purchase cost. As a result, revenues within the sharing economy are predicted to double by 2020, presenting a significant opportunity for emerging startups in this industry.