Venture Explains: The Sharing Economy

What is it?

A broad, catch-all term to describe an economic model in which you rent or borrow an asset owned by someone else. Countless Internet-based services are springing up to facilitate these new types of transactions across a host of sectors, from hospitality and transport, to education and finance.

Gives us some examples

Uber’s hugely popular ride-hailing app effectively turns you and your beat up Hyundai into a taxi service. Uber is known to be eyeing a move to Amman in the not too distant future. Airbnb allows you to rent out a spare room in your house to strangers. The service, which at last count was valued at mind boggling $13 billion, is already proving popular with enterprising homeowners around the capital who are willing to accommodate tourists for cash. And then there’s Task Rabbit, a sort of eBay for mundane household chores and errands like dog walking and painting. This has yet to reach Jordan.

It all sounds very exciting

Yes, many expect these services to make our lives cheaper and more convenient. Why hang around on a street corner waiting for a taxi when you could just pay your neighbor for a lift? Rather than leaving your expensive assets lying idle, why not generate some income out of them? And if you dread trudging around a cavernous supermarket buying groceries, why not pay someone else to do it?

But not everyone’s embracing the sharing economy, right?

Governments complain they’re losing tax revenue from tourists using Airbnb to book accommodation in private homes rather than hotels. Uber has come under fire for its alleged lax regulations surrounding who can become one of its drivers. Existing taxi cab firms aren’t too happy about having their livelihoods threatened, either. While people offering their services through Task Rabbit and other portals of its type aren’t covered by basic medical insurance, let alone any wider worker rights.