There has been much discussion these days surrounding the sharing economy. Is it good for workers? How will governments and traditional industries respond? How can we regulate it? Does it further democratize employment, or restrict it?
These are all interesting and valuable discussions. Here at the Casual Capitalist however we have strayed from such existential questions. Our goal, despite the chatter surrounding the sharing economy, is to help you profit from it.
Our perspective is simple. Millions of dollars are flowing every day into the pockets of people working in the sharing economy. I make money, and my fellow Casual Capitalists are cashing in as well. We want to help as many people as possible embrace this disruptive economic shift.
Now, disregard all that. Today’s exercise is different. For the next 5 minutes we are going to stare into the crystal ball. We want to see what the sharing economy 2.0 may look like in the years to come.
We are doing this for two important reasons. First, we get this question a lot: “What’s next for the sharing economy?”. We’ve always tried to bring the focus back to making money now, but there is some value in exploring future trends. Secondly, the sharing economy is our income playground. Anticipating upcoming challenges is never a bad thing. This will help us better position ourselves to profit in the coming years.
Also, we want to be able to look back and see how right, or terribly wrong, we were. This is always fun.
Below are 7 trends that we at the Casual Capitalist believe will define the sharing economy 2.0. Others will surely surface. But, in order for the sharing economy to continue thriving in the coming decade, these issues need resolution.
1. Worker Benefits
One of the major grievances against the sharing economy is that workers are considered contractors. They therefore have no benefits. No benefits means no safety net. No safety net is bad. We agree with this logic.
That said, there is a lot of good work currently going into developing worker benefit packages tailored toward sharing economy workers. But, questions still remain. This includes access to health care, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, paid leave, and more.
Casual Prediction #1: By 2020, portable worker benefit packages will be offered to sharing economy workers by platforms as well as outside providers.
2. Worker Classification
Much of the sharing economy’s legal troubles have revolved around worker classification. This is particularly true for Uber. We have ignored these distractions at the Casual Capitalist. While the courts figure these things out, we intend to profit.
Are sharing economy workers freelancers? Part-time employees? Contractors? These are all important questions being worked out as we speak. You can be sure that governments want to resolve the classification issue, their tax income depends on it.
Casual Prediction #2: By 2020, there will be an established employment category classification that applies specifically to sharing economy workers.
3. Retirement Plans
Much like worker benefits, retirement plans are becoming an important topic of discussion. Traditionally, you worked for a company your whole life, paid into a pension fund, and continued to receive income after you retired. Simple.
But this is no longer the norm. Workers are less likely now to be employed at the same place their entire career. And, sharing economy employment is further complicating our concept of traditional employment.
This means that sharing economy companies, and employers more broadly, need to reconsider how they implement retirement and pension plans.
Ride-sharing platform Lyft is at the forefront of this rethinking. Lyft recently announced that it has partnered with an investment firm to provide drivers with the option of contributing to a pension fund. This is great, but so much more work needs to be done.
Casual Prediction #3: By 2020, most sharing economy platforms will permit a flexible pension contribution system. That is, one pension held by a particular investment firm will have many employers contributing.
4. Regulatory Wrangling
Most cities have been caught off-guard by the impact of the sharing economy on transportation, housing, and employment. Some cities react positively, others not so much. Some cities with strong unions (Taxi!), have tried to outright ban sharing economy services. This position is a mistake, and is on the wrong side of history.
“Ban Model T, it ruins carriage industry. Ban online shopping, it entices fraudsters. Ban sharing economy, it’s scary”
We could have banned Ford’s Model T because it was disruptive to the horse and carriage industry. We could have banned online banking and shopping because it was going to be a playground for fraudsters. Progress is painful, and we are going through these challenges now with the sharing economy.
According to a recent survey, almost half of cities have no regulation for the sharing economy. This will certainly change. We do not advocate or hope for a wild west model of capitalism.
Casual Prediction #4: By 2020, 90% of major cities will have adopted specific regulatory mechanisms for the major sharing economy platforms.
5. Fusion With Traditional Industries
Most traditional industries are learning to work with the sharing economy. They are doing so because of two important factors. They are aware of the inevitability and profit potential of the sharing economy idea. And, they don’t want to be left behind.
Take the car industry for instance. Ford recently launched a pilot car-sharing program with Getaround (US) and easyCar Club (Europe). This program will make it easier for Ford owners to rent out their new vehicles to pre-screened renters.
The hotel industry, on the other hand, has not done so well. They continue to miss opportunities to embrace this new economic force. And ironically, they have the most to lose from peer-to-peer home rentals. Consider that Airbnb averages over 425,000 guests per night, which is 25% more than Hilton.
Casual Prediction #5: Traditional industries such as hotels, car makers, and retail, will be forced to adapt to the sharing economy model. By 2020, there will exist much more consolidation between traditional and sharing models of business.
6. Bursting The Bubble
Consolidate, fail, or thrive? This will be the question for all sharing economy platforms over the next few years. We at the Casual Capitalist believe we are creating a sharing economy bubble. There are too many platforms attempting to permeate too much of our lives.
This is not to say that the sharing economy is bad. It certainly is not. But, the majority of platforms will either pivot, consolidate, or fail, as opposed to thrive.
Casual Prediction #6: By 2020 the majority of sharing economy companies will have failed, merged, or completely changed their business model.
We have seen the sharing economy seep into every aspect of our lives. Food, cars, storage space, driveways, WIFI, bicycles, boats, homes, spare time, and much more have all been monetized on the internet. Keep the above point in mind that many of these platforms will fail.
There are however other industries that have yet to be disrupted by the sharing economy. This is where we will see expansion in the coming years.
Casual Prediction #7: By 2020, the health care and energy sectors will be disrupted by new sharing economy platforms.
We have seen the disruptive force of the first iteration of the sharing economy. It has disoriented traditional industries much like e-commerce changed retail shopping in the early 2000’s.
The next 5 years will be instrumental in redefining this new economic space. It will be messy. Some of these issues will remain unsolved, others will be redefined. What’s important is that the sharing economy is here to stay and offers immense potential. How we as a society react is the unanswered question.
Now it’s your turn to predict. Please comment below on the above trends and include your predictions. Do you agree, disagree, or enjoy a particular brand of snacks that you want to share? We love snacks. We also love discussion.
Bye for now,