Peer-to-Peer marketplaces and global communities have skyrocketed in popularity in the last decade, and the numbers have become too high for the mainstream media and economic sectors of the government to ignore.
Airbnb services over 300,000 people per night in 190 countries, while rideshare companies have created an invisible infrastructure of cars that one can use to drive from country to country. Parisian BlaBlaCar and Munich’s Carpooling are just two instances where a network of vehicles can take anyone with a smartphone across Europe. Companies such as Lyft and Uber have caused such a stir in certain cities, taxi drivers and government officials are looking to ban these apps for “operating without proper permits which require drivers to pay heavy fees, undergo extensive screenings, and obtain commercial insurance.”
The serious disruption of these economic sectors are ushering in all kinds of apps/sites that are looking to provide a service where there is a serious gap between the mainstream and the public. For example, AskforTask was born out of the necessity of a service. The disruption of profit margins is inevitable – the current economic situation of Canada/U.S. did not happen overnight – but the explosion of global communities has happened at a rate unforeseen by most.
However, there are certain drawbacks to any new (and seemingly wonderful) service. As Policy-network.net points out “…society needs new ways of keeping consumers safe and of protecting workers as it prepares for an era of population-scale peer-to-peer exchange.”
Watch dogs must be careful however, as more policy and standardization can quickly turn into policing and fining, which would simply inflate costs and lead back to where the economy was before global communities started popping up. While it will be challenging to properly administer regulations on services driven predominantly by the user, it is still feasible especially when looking at examples like YouTube. Oppositely, Facebook is an instance where it has been hard to regulate community-based operations, with constant misrepresentations and falsehoods of security appearing from the woodwork.
Nevertheless, collaborative consumption will continue to grow, and governments need to develop methods to regulate them and ensure safety, not simply find a way to profit from it.