The sharing economy, which is also referred to as the collaborative economy, is an economic model that has gained prominence worldwide in recent years. Uber and Airbnb can be used as a representation of the sharing economies’ significant impact on the nation’s economic landscape. In Australia, the sharing economy, as represented by platforms such as Uber Eats and Airbnb, has revolutionised the way people access goods and services across Australia, fostering economic empowerment, innovation, and greater convenience for consumers, while also promoting resource efficiency and creating new opportunities for individuals to participate in the global marketplace.
The sharing economy can stimulate growth in the economy by creating new markets and opportunities for people as well as businesses to participate and earn income (Sundararajan, 2014). Uber Eats and Airbnb have played a major role in economically empowering people within Australia. Uber alone has accounted for a lot of jobs, allowing countless individuals to leverage their vehicles and time as a way to earn income. Uber 2021 ANZ Economic Impact Report, compiled by Public First, states that with over 60,000 drivers, 10.4 billion dollars in value was collectively earned and generated for Australia’s economy (Uber, 2022). Similarly, Airbnb provides its homeowners with extra income and opportunities to monetise their properties and unused assets, by hosting guests. The average annual revenue of Airbnb hosts in Australia totals to $57,000 dollars in 2022 (Statista, 2022). This highlights the financial benefits of the sharing economy that both Uber and Airbnb provide to individuals in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber Eats served as a valuable marketing and delivery channel for individuals within Australia. According to the RBA, during the pandemic, food delivery services such as Uber Eats played a pivotal role in sustaining revenue for many restaurants that would have otherwise struggled to survive with the lockdowns and restrictions posed upon the community (RBA, 2020).
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Uber Eats and Airbnb have allowed great innovation and entrepreneurship within Australia. Both platforms have disrupted traditional norms of food delivery and accommodation services. Uber Eats disrupted the traditional food delivery model, allowing room for a platform to incorporate both restaurants and independent food vendors an opportunity to reach a broader customer base. This innovation has resulted in the growth of food delivery businesses such as other platforms, Door-dash, and Menu-log. The creation of virtual restaurants and innovative delivery solutions has resulted in an ever-expanding growth. On the other hand, Airbnb has allowed entrepreneurs to utilise their properties as short-term rentals, allowing users to generate income on their unused assets. This has promoted tourism and offered unique accommodation experiences for people within Australia as well as worldwide. A report by the Australian Financial Review noted that Airbnb hosts often went on to become entrepreneurs by reinvesting their earnings into property development or other ventures (Financial Review, 2019).
Convenience for consumers
Both platforms have revolutionised convenience for Australian consumers in multiple ways. For example, Uber Eats has allowed customers to have access to a wide range of cuisines and have them delivered to their doorsteps from one simple app on their smartphone. This has not only reshaped the food delivery landscape, it has become a routine of Australians’ daily lives. According to new research, Australians are spending an incredible 2.6 billion each year on food and drink delivery through companies such as Uber Eats (News, 2018). The sharing economy extends further to the convergence of services through ride-sharing by Uber. This has made transportation more accessible and hassle-free.
Overall, Uber Eats, Airbnb, and similar sharing economy platforms have become cornerstones of convenience, providing consumers with streamlined and user-friendly solutions that enhance their daily lives and travel experiences.
Resource efficiency and sustainability
Uber Eats and Airbnb are contributing to resource efficiency and sustainability in Australia in various ways, aligning with the country’s commitment to environmental conservation.Uber for example, not only provides convince to its customers, yet it also optimises food delivery routes and minimises the distance that Uber deliverers travel, and the time they spend on deliveries, Uber promotes the efficient use of resources, including fuel in this manner. Furthermore, Ubers ride-sharing option reduces carbon emissions significantly ( Sydney Morning Herald, 2023). Providing these alternatives to private ownership of cars, these services provided by Uber contribute to reduced traffic on the roads and an overall environmental impact associated with individual car ownership within Australia. Additionally, in the case of Airbnb, the platform promotes sustainability within the Australian community specifically as it allows individuals to utilise housing stock for short-term rental. This approach reduces the need of the construction of more hotels which have significant impacts such as habitat disruption as well as increased energy consumption. Airbnb’s commitment to sustainability is evident from it partnership with organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (Airbnb,2020). Together both the platform and organisation work to promote eco-friendly travel experiences for their hosts and guests.
Opportunities for participation
The sharing economy extends its impact beyond gig work. It offers Australians an opportunity to become investors. Crowd-sourced funding platforms like Equitise have come about as catalysts, and have democratized investment opportunities and allowed individuals to become stakeholders in startups and innovative businesses. This newfound avenue for participation not only diversifies investment portfolios but also fosters a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation among Australians.
Uber Eats and Airbnb are not only integral parts to the sharing economy within the Australian community, they also exemplify its multifaceted impact. These platforms contribute to economic empowerment for all parts of the economy, drivers, restaurants, and homeowners. They stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship as well as offer unparalleled convenience to their consumers by promoting resource efficiency and sustainability. As the sharing economy continues to evolve, it is crucial that police markers as well as stakeholders strike a balance between fostering innovation and between regulatory and ethical concerns ensuring the platforms continue to benefit our Australian society and the broader economy.