In the digital age, the sharing economy is widely applied in all corners of life.And the sharing economy provides a new way of life for people.Also people can maximise the use of resources and economic efficiency through this sharing and collaboration.However, while the sharing economy brings convenience, it also brings problems, such as the leakage of private information and job and income security. These issues have been the subject of much debate.Is the sharing economy affecting people’s lives for the better or for the worse?In this paper, we will support our argument by analysing the benefits and drawbacks of the development of the sharing economy in a platform society.
Benefits of the Sharing Economy
The sharing economy is digital and access to the sharing economy is mediated through websites and apps.And the more common mode of participation in social media and online society is sharing (John, Nicholas A,2016).Then, like Dijck, José van（2018） said the platform social model has changed the way economic activity is done.Sharing economy platforms enable people to share resources, rent goods, provide services, and earn income in more flexible work models .The sharing economy has brought many new experiences to our lives. Here are some of the most prominent features.
- Increased freedom of occupation.With the idea of economic sharing, people are beginning to rethink the nature of work.And, people are also enjoying the work that comes with freelancing.According to research statistics, the global freelance market is currently estimated at 1.2 billion freelancers, and the freelance market is expected to grow at a rate of 15.3 per cent in 2026.And the use of online job search platforms is also surging from 2021 onwards.
- Making the most of idle resources and reduce costs . The sharing economy helps to unlock the value of idle assets and increase economic efficiency.Also, in the sharing economy, we can make full use of idle resources. For example, before the sharing economy came into being, if people owned two houses at the same time, they might leave one unused, which was a waste of resources.But by sharing and borrowing, we can reduce the waste of resources and the cost of purchasing. For example, an individual user can rent his house to someone who is travelling or planning to stay for a long period of time, this reducing the cost of purchasing and reduce the waste of resources.Also，for example, when consumers think of ordering a hotel, it is cheaper to use a platform than to book offline. According to data, prices on platforms such as Airbnb are 30 to 60 per cent cheaper than the average hotel. This helps to attract more tourists to the country, as people will often choose a more suitable price.
- Bringing in more business opportunities.People can use their leisure time to work part-time or invest in platforms. For example, a traditional worker can spend his weekends picking up orders on a platform like Uber.And, the sharing economy brings a lot of new opportunities, food bloggers can use social platforms to promote their food for profit, fashion bloggers can communicate with merchants, help merchants to post videos on social platforms to promote their clothes to get a relative remuneration and the merchants will also increase the sales of clothes.Also, people can also earn extra income through live streaming, which will make them financially freer from capital.
- Promoting community activities. The platform society encourages and facilitates social interaction among people. Social media platforms allow people to share information, make connections, and express opinions on a global scale(Dijck, José van,2018) .And the sharing economy can promote social interaction and community co-operation and build closer relationships.
- Diversification of services . Digital technologies play a crucial role in enabling transactions in the sharing economy. Digital platforms and applications facilitate connections between providers and consumers, making it easier for individuals to find and access the resources or services they need. In particular, peer-to-peer transactions allow individuals to transact directly without the need to involve traditional intermediaries. This model can connect people in need with those in need more freely and efficiently.
Controversies in the Sharing Economy
The sharing economy meets the need for flexibility, convenience and personalisation.And in the sharing economy, each person can choose the right resources and services according to his or her needs, which improves the consumer experience .But while the sharing economy improves efficiency and reduces costs, it inevitably raises some controversial points.
- Resources are not protected. When sharing, you can’t avoid damage to the things you share. This leads to damage to resources.Also online transactions are fraudulent and we cannot guarantee that the transaction is secured.
- Suppression of traditional industries .For example, competition from shared accommodation platforms to the traditional hospitality industry, the emergence of Airbnb has led to a decline in hotel occupancy rates in major US markets .Then, taxis face the kind of competition that Uber does, with the Boston Group reporting that the global market for online rides is expected to soar from $36bn in 2016 to $285bn by 2030.And traditional taxi drivers don’t get job security anymore.
- Income instability. Many sharing economy workers face unstable income and employment which can make it difficult to plan for the future and maintain a stable lifestyle. For example, some people use live streaming as their main business, and when no one is watching, they don’t make any money, and this income is unstable depending on how well the live streaming traffic is exposed.
- Information leakage . Sharing economy platforms often collect and share user data, which can raise privacy concerns.And information sharing and registration on the platforms can easily lead to information leakage.Also, companies share data by establishing data sharing alliances, but frequent data breaches in recent years have also made data sharing a huge challenge for companies. For example, in 2017, Equifax announced that the private information of more than 150 million customers had been stolen, resulting in a loss of nearly $90 million in associated costs!
Is the existence of the sharing economy an opportunity or a constraint ?
The platform community is constantly evolving. New platforms are constantly emerging and existing platforms are constantly innovating to meet the new needs of their users.Then platform society is also evolving under the sharing economy platform.While there are many controversies surrounding the sharing economy model, the negative aspects of their discussion are incomplete and problematic. For example
- For traditional industries: stimulates the state of competition and brings dynamism to the economy.While the sharing economy has put pressure and blows on traditional industries, it has also made them re-examine their existing business models .Rise of And digital platforms encourages innovation and competition.Businesses can offer new products and services through digital platforms to meet the needs of different users . For example, many traditional companies have begun to promote their products through live streaming on social media platforms.
- For the problem of information leakage:In order to prevent information leakage, regulators have introduced data protection policies that utilise national laws to avoid data leakage.And, data vulnerability can also be prevented through technological upgrades.Also, data sharing can be safely realised through effective government regulatory mechanisms.
- For the establishment of a sound credit system:For example, second-hand selling platforms display the credit worthiness of both the merchant and the consumer. Ride-sharing apps such as Uber give passengers a scoring system based on their behaviour and display passenger and driver ratings to help people make judgements.
The sharing economy model brings many business opportunities, creates new markets, provides more diverse and humane servicesand increases resource utilisation.People can use shared transport to save money on purchase and maintenance, reduce urban congestion and exhaust emissions, and travel more efficiently.And shared accommodation platforms offer travellers the opportunity to live with locals. This not only reduces the cost of accommodation, but also allows for better integration into the local culture and a more authentic travelling experience.But, the sharing economy faces a number of challenges, including legal regulation, security and trust, market competition and social equity, which still need to be addressed by all parties working together.Nevertheless, the future of the sharing economy is still very promising. Experts predict that by 2025, the value of the sharing economy model will grow to $335 billion.Finally,the pros far outweigh the cons for the sharing economy.
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