Trust: the Driving Force behind the Global Sharing Economy?

The term “sharing economy” is on everybody’s lips these days and it will be a term that the world will get more accustomed to hearing on an everyday basis in the near future.

That is if we are to believe the growth projections of the global sharing economy in the short-term. According to one report from accounting firm PWC, the global sharing economy will grow to 335 billion USD by 2025.

At the end of the day, the sharing economy is based on the simple principle that you can have trust in strangers

Indeed, the sharing economy is still in its infancy but with such a huge growth potential one must look at what drives it forward. At the end of the day, the sharing economy is based on the simple principle that you can have trust in strangers. However, if the sharing economy needs to keep growing at its current pace, how do we make sure that the value of trust is not getting lost in the equation?

Keeping Trust Valuable

The more involved one becomes in the sharing economy, the more value one’s online reputation has. Trust, in that sense, becomes a digital currency that can be used to gain access to any service in the sharing economy. Needless to say that the bigger the global sharing economy becomes, the more value one can attribute to one’s reputation.

It is not only the growth of the sharing economy that makes one’s digital reputation a valuable asset. Factors like urbanisation, a disgruntled public distrusting big corporations, and a world market which is still fighting recession are all contributing factors to the growth of the sharing economy.

Trust, in that sense, becomes a digital currency that can be used to gain access to any service in the sharing economy

In that sense, trust in strangers not only becomes what drives the sharing economy forward, but it also fills a void in the consumer habits of ordinary people. For many people, it makes sense to participate in the sharing economy because it offers a cheaper and more personal alternative to continuing their traditional consumption habits.

Despite the societal benefits of the sharing economy, it must also be acknowledged that we need to look into how trust in strangers can stay the primary driving factor.

Teething Troubles of the Sharing Economy

As useful a tool user trust is in the digital age, it must also be recognised that we are already seeing issues developing within this area, threatening the value of trust. Public debate about racial discrimination among sharing economy users is on the rise, and can be quite a challenging thing to combat for platforms and legislators alike. Similarly, it seems at a glance that only a select group of people have the opportunities to take part in the sharing economy. The sharing economy is thriving among the tech savvy and younger urbanite generations.

…we are already seeing issues developing within this area, threatening the value of trust

Despite the sharing economy being based on trust, there are a number of security questions that also need answering: what role does user ID validation play, what are sharing economy platforms doing to avoid fraud, and what does the insurance industry think of this as a whole?
The list of teething troubles for the sharing economy is long, but as with any new societal phenomenon many of them have the potential to challenge trust. On the other hand, “ifs and buts” must naturally occur in the beginning phases of any new social tendency.

On the other hand, “ifs and buts” must naturally occur in the
burgeoning phases of any new social tendency

As time progresses and the sharing economy grows, it is likely that the issues surrounding trust online will be dealt with by market forces – platforms and users alike. After all, trust in strangers is what drives the sharing economy forward.

Challenging Traditional Consumer Habits

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. This is no different for the sharing economy which has been born in the wake of the worst recession the world has seen for almost a century. The emergence of the global sharing economy signifies the beginning of what will likely be a game-changing social trend of the 21st century.

As mentioned, the sharing economy appeals to so many people because it offers a cheaper alternative to traditional consuming. Changing personal consumption habits can be hard, but the economic and social benefits of becoming a part of the sharing economy has already made it worthwhile for millions of people to engage in it. In other words, getting involved becomes a lifestyle choice. However, this lifestyle choice is only possible if there is a guarantee that you can have trust in the strangers you deal with.

As the global sharing economy grows, trust and personal accountability amongst peers might just become one’s most valuable asset

Perhaps, the sharing economy will in time become a main driver for social positive change and a more open-minded world, where shared interests takes priority over the fear of the unknown – just like in modern day global commerce, where strangers form business relations with each other every day for the sake of profit.

As the global sharing economy grows, trust and personal accountability between peers might just become one’s most valuable asset. If anything, it is a nice thought that trustworthiness is a tangible and life improving virtue which everyone can potentially enjoy.



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