• Chelsea Rustrum

3 Ways to Keep the Sharing Economy Powered by the People

Updated: Feb 21

How the Sharing Economy Can Transition

Here are three ways to transition the sharing economy so that the power remains in the hands of the individuals, meditated by the crowd rather than falling to the fate of oligopolies.

The problem with our current models (typical corporate structures) is that incentives are not necessarily in alignment with the values we’ve collectively created with peer-driven organizations.

With organizations becoming increasingly flat, our technology driven age gives us the opportunity to create systems that promote rewarding contribution — creating structures that are more collaborative, sustainable, and directly benefit more people equitably.

Here are a few places to start:

  1. Decentralized systems Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and other providers of large marketplaces are doing little more than efficiently connecting people with an overlay of trust and reputation. If there was an open source platform that’s owned and run by the drivers, hosts, or teachers — suddenly, the people who are doing the work can receive the most benefit from their time and energy, making decisions as a group, rather than through the typical top-down approach. And add crypto-currency to the platform (imagine a truly globalized payment system), and suddenly, you have the recipe for a currency and economic system that’s backed by something other than just faith that money is real.

  2. Cooperative legal models There is no reason that Airbnb couldn’t be run as a owner-owned cooperative, meaning that every single host would own a portion of the company based on their individual contributions (amount they host) as well as earn revenue for guest stays. Cooperative legal models complement the sharing economy, they just haven’t caught up to be used with these technology driven platforms and don’t have financial investment to support them yet. New financial instruments and investment models will be developed. Cooperatives are an older/lesser used legal model attaching to marketplaces that are new to all of us, so the infrastructure will need to be built.

  3. Open-source trust profiles People need a portable way to prove their trustworthiness in business. Right now, we have credit scores and driving records, which are not transparent. What we need is something beyond social media profiles, and not hidden behind one way glass, like credit scores. Individuals need a way to prove that they are safe, personable, and reputable. Currently, every single provider has their own rating and review system and they do not share data, which means that reputation has to start over every single time someone participates in a new marketplace. Not only are their reviews not transportable, they are also not owned by the individual who earned them. Some initial developments were rumored to be underway by the North Shore Advisory who believes that, an open-source, transportable trust profile could solve this. Only time will tell where the future will take us.

How can the sharing economy can remain progressive, giving the peers who contribute a way to remain in control of their income and future? What else can we do to with software and legal models to support the emerging economy?

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