The last couple of years I’ve had 1000s of conversations about the sharing economy with entrepreneurs, politicians, citizens, investors and industry leaders.
My learnings from those conversations can be boiled down to a number of ways we might govern this expanding industry.
Although, I’m not a policy maker.
Which is why I was thrilled to be invited to the Techfestival’s ‘Future of Governance Summit’ last week to frame a conversation on the sharing economy.
Here’s a summary of my introduction:
What lessons can be taken from the growth and the debate around sharing economy services?
- Some Silicon Valley giants (read: Uber) has given the Sharing Economy a bad name. Not adhering to social conduct and legislation has sparked a negative debate on tax, worker’s rights, safety etc.
- New entrants are much more aware of this debate and in my opinion are very aware of being held to high standards and is founded on ethical principles.
- As one entrepreneur noted “If I wanted to cheat on taxes starting a sharing economy platform would probably be the slowest way of doing it”
How can we better assess the value of sharing economy services?
- The sharing economy is hard to define as one industry as there are many players within mobility, freelancing, accommodation etc.
- We need to measure relevant KPIs for each vertical. For example job creation or decrease in unemployment, social prosperity or fighting loneliness and of course monetary such as financial growth and foreign investments.
- A triple bottom line might be one way for businesses to do this.
If I wanted to cheat in taxes; starting a sharing economy platform would probably be the slowest way of doing it
How is sharing economy changing the way we want to own and consume utilities, and how does this impact governments?
- The growth of this industry stems from a generation of millennials who feel no prestige in owning things, cars and houses. As well as an eroding trust in established institutions, so we seek trust and community elsewhere.
- How will governments secure taxes if no one owns houses or only work as freelancers?
How can the industry create standards and promote the benefits of the sharing economy?
- The UK and the Sharing Economy UK association has been a frontrunner with their trust kite-mark that companies can subscribe to.
- The Trust Seal consists of a number of things platforms must adhere to such as; user verifications and checks, transparent communications and pricing, customer help and support, secure payments, insurance and data protection.
- The trust seal is tiered according to maturity of the company so it does not exclude any new entrants.
One of the most important things for Nordic entrepreneurs is the ability to scale across borders
What role does the government have in regulating the sharing economy industry?
- Governments could allow for experiments in the industry as to not legislate an industry which is still in its infancy and of which we, in fact, know very little.
- Governments should not legislate all sizes of businesses the same. The Airbnbs of the world are very different beasts to the flood of startups coming out.
- One of the most important things for Nordic entrepreneurs is the ability to scale across borders. Do not make tools that will make international expansion impossible.
What’re your thoughts?