Among the key challenges that have been
preventing mass adoption of the sharing economy is an unequal distribution of
the value generated by companies in the space. Large intermediaries such as
Uber and Airbnb reap huge profits from the sharing economy while smaller
companies get little to nothing.
Through projects such as ShareRing and Origin, blockchain
technology could eliminate this disparity by introducing decentralized
platforms where peer-to-peer sharing can happen transparently and without
Origin aims to create a set of protocols that
allow developers and businesses to build a decentralized sharing economy
marketplace on a blockchain.
ShareRing seeks to merge all of the existing
sharing platforms into one app in which users can execute transactions
efficiently across all of those platforms. The app will allow users to pay for
goods and services in the shared economy using tokens, effectively
eliminating the need for carrying cash or debit cards.
Blockchains also seek to eliminate
fragmentation. Traditionally, users are required to sign up and download an app
for each of the many sharing economy solutions they want. If there are, for
example, five sharing economy companies in your locality, you would be required
to sign up for each company to access all of their services.
However, with blockchain-driven solutions,
such as the ShareRing project, all services could be accessible on a single
platform and payments can be made through the same platform. This means that
you do not have to sign up multiple times and, even when traveling abroad, you
do not have to worry about finding locally relevant sharing apps, since the
blockchain-driven approach will connect you with the local sharing economy
Blockchain solutions for the sharing economy can
also be more secure, given the decentralized nature of the technology. The
traditional centralized solutions are more prone to hackers, and many of them
have had instances of major data breaches.
For instance, last year, Uber disclosed that hackers had accessed the personal information of 57
million riders and drivers from its platform in 2016, prompting the company to
pay a $100,000 as ransom. Airbnb has also been faced with multiple instances of
data breaches, with the biggest attack making the platform disappear momentarily back in 2016. In
a recent incident, hackers hijacked accounts of top-rated users and used them to
book homes of hosts that they would then burglarize.
In a blockchain-powered sharing solution,
hackers would never be able to access users’ accounts, let alone manipulate
them to give a false identity. In fact, all users’ identities would need to be
verified on the blockchain, adding protection to users involved in peer-to-peer
Blockchain technology will also protect users
legally when, in the event of a dispute, the smart contract technology can
provide arbitration. For example, if a person owns an autonomous car and wants
to rent it out for extra income, the smart contract technology would ensure
that those who hire the car make payments as required without needing a third
party to oversee the transaction. Also, in the event of a dispute, the
technology would analyze its rich and highly accurate data and could offer a
transparent and just settlement.
Likewise, if the car were co-owned by two or more people, the
same smart contract technology would ensure that the parties would each automatically
get their fair share of income and would settle disputes as well.
As blockchain technology continues to gain mainstream
acceptance, there is a high likelihood that more innovative solutions combining
the solution with real-world use cases are yet to come. The sharing economy has
a long way to go before becoming a fully secure and user-friendly space, but
with all the innovation in the space, it's possible that the kinks will be
straightened out sooner rather than later.