User to User, Business to Business: Blockchain Has Great Potential in the Sharing Economy

Last week, Vox reported that the sharing economy is estimated to reach $40.2 billion by 2022. From renting clothes to sharing car rides and bypassing hotels in favor of other people’s houses, the peer-to-peer sharing is becoming increasingly popular, with users showing preferences for renting or borrowing goods instead of owning them. Some of the most successful companies – Airbnb, Uber and Zipcar – are capitalizing on this trend.

The next level of the sharing economy is business-to-business, B2B. This includes shared office spaces, equipment rentals, cloud storage, third-party service providers and more. And while half of businesses surveyed recently by Commonwealth Bank say they plan to start sharing assets for cost savings or revenue generations, less than 10 percent are actually doing it now.

“Despite the potential, the sharing economy is still in its infancy... this may be because businesses are yet to find the right balance between sharing equipment and information, and maintaining their competitive edge,” the report says. “One potential answer is for complementary businesses to create a framework for mutually profitable collaboration rather than relying on trust. With a proven model for collaboration in place, our research suggests we are likely to see growing use of shared assets in the very near future.”

One proven model that can make B2B sharing economy possible is, of course, blockchain. ShareRing is an Australian blockchain startup aims to bring the sharing economy to everyone – businesses as well as consumers – by creating a system that tracks assets and payments and maintains a clear trail of possession. “I would say moving forward, probably about 60 to 70 percent of the users on our platform will be business-based users,” says CEO and founder Tim Bos.

Water is asset that can be shared in the agricultural sector.

Bos cites the agricultural sector, in which farmers combine harvesters, rather than renting from a central location. In construction, equipment is shared, resulting in lower costs because the downtime of the equipment is eliminated. Water is another asset that can be shared. And the technology isn’t only for physical assets – digital assets can be streamlined as well.  

Currently, the sharing economy is dependent upon those that are essentially brokers – such as Airbnb and Uber. They are the platforms that bring users together, resolve conflicts and more – while taking their cut. Blockchain eliminates the middlemen. “One of the things blockchain enables us to do... is around creating a platform that's essentially a one-size-fits-all for the sharing economy, with autonomous organisations and smart contracts," Bos said.

The idea is that every user can write their own rules about how they share their assets, and those rules are attached to asset tokenisation. “If you've got an asset that's tokenized, you can write your own rules about how that asset behaves," Bos explains. “You look at ownership vs. custodianship of an asset. Where we are now we talk about one asset that's tokenised, that basically has an owner and a temporary custodian. That custodian is responsible for a certain period of time.”

With improved access to a greater number of assets, the elimination of both the ownership costs and the middlemen fees, and the use of cryptocurrency to lower the cost of handling payments internationally, the sharing economy promises businesses larger revenues and reduced costs.  

With Asgardia’s Economy and Finance System Workshop in Nice only days away, the Space Nation is open to new and original ideas and solutions that would fit its need as an emerging, one-of-a-kind nation. The combination of IoT, cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology as applied to economy and finance may be one such solution.