The new age of technology has led to many innovations. Entire industries have been disrupted with new ideas and ways to interact. As a result, a new type of economy has been created, named the sharing economy, or as I like to refer to it, the future of the economy.
The sharing economy is described as people using their personal assets to create additional income. Examples include Uber and Lyft, where people use their personal vehicles as a taxi service, or Airbnb, where people rent out their personal homes. These services have radically changed how society functions, and has improved lives for many, particularly students.
Before Uber and Lyft, one would have to call a taxi or take public transit. Taxis would typically take a crazy amount of time to arrive, and were quite expensive. Uber and Lyft provide quick and high quality rides at lower prices.
This is particularly helpful for students and their party lives. Drunk driving is a serious problem, as seen in 2016 when over 27% of all driving-related deaths involved drunk driving. Many students would not have called a taxi to pick them up, as they were too expensive and took too long. Now with services like Uber and Lyft, a safe ride home is a tap away.
These companies also give students an excellent source of part-time income. Of course, reports state that after accounting for gas and car maintenance expenses, the average Uber wage is around USD 11.77. Despite being around the minimum wage, this still serves as a great source of income for students travelling around, as there are many opportunities to utilize this income. The flexibility Uber and Lyft give their drivers are perfect for any student.
The food delivery services such as UberEats should not be understated either and have given students the opportunity for cheap delivery while on a study break. They are also another source of income for students looking to make some cash.
Another innovation is Airbnb housing. This rental option gives students the ability to find housing together at an affordable price. Students can also rent out their own dorms while they’re out at a friend’s house. This income will help go towards paying the massive student debt crisis awaiting many.
Despite the massive amount of success of these companies over the past few years, they are not immune to the pandemic’s economic disaster. For example, Uber has had to institute rules, such as limit the number of passengers to three in its vehicles. Between April and June of 2020, trip bookings were down 78%. This staggering drop will affect Uber for years to come.
Airbnb has faced equally drastic losses. Canada has called for a ban on short term rentals, and Airbnb’s business model has been put on hold as a result. This is alarming because 45% of hosts won’t be able to sustain operating costs if the pandemic continues for a few more months.
With the crisis of the pandemic halting these services, it is important to take a step back and look at how the effects these services have on our lives. Services like these will continue to emerge, and a look at how our economy is changing will allow one to foresee the benefits they can ripe from the future of the sharing economy.
By: Wais Hundekar