Social technology is making it easier for people to transact with each other, enabling people to share homes, skills, transportation—and even food —with each other. The sharing economy this year will generate $350 billion in transactions, according to Melissa O-Young, the founder of Let’s Collaborate! But how much of that is actually coming from Asia?
When one thinks of the “sharing economy,” the first companies that come to mind are Silicon Valley darlings, like Airbnb and Uber. While the exact value is hard to measure, the concept of the sharing economy in Asia has also been booming, albeit more quietly than in the West. With a flourishing ecosystem and culture of micro-entrepreneurship already present in Asia, the foundation is there for the sharing economy to continue its ascent.
Crowdfunding, a major component of the sharing economy, is disrupting finance in Asia as we know it. According to the World Bank’s report on crowdfunding in developing countries. It won’t be long before we see China as the biggest global player, as crowd funded investments from China can potentially reach up to $50 billion by 2025. At Crowdonomic, an Asia-based crowdfunding platform, this growth is something that we’re seeing firsthand. We’ve seen the record amount of money raised by Asia-based crowdfunding campaigns constantly increasing, and the numbers of Asia-based supporters is growing too, for example.
With more than 1.1 billion internet users in Asia, it’s no surprise that crowdsourced labor is being driven by workers from Asia, creating an opportunity for more micro-entrepreneurs to emerge. For example, more than half of the top 25 earners on Elance.com are from India, according to this article. Zhu ba jie, China’s largest crowdsourcing site, claims to have access to over 8 million workers, making it the world’s largest employer. Viki, a Singapore based video streaming startup, has had users translate over 350 million words for its videos, which consist mostly of content from South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
Another example where crowdsourced labor is vibrant is in the tourism industry. Many startups are flocking to this space, crowdsourcing local tours to both amateur and professional tour guides. In addition to Airbnb, which set up shop in Singapore last year, there are several Asia-born P2P rental start-ups that are quite established already.
The South Korean government has made the biggest strides toward embracing a sharing economy, with plans to position Seoul the next great sharing city, as can be seen in this infographic. The South Korean government is currently incubating sharing startups, with office space, consultation and subsidies; redesigning policies to become more conducive to the sharing economy; and introducing sharing initiatives like a 492 vehicle car sharing service among other initiatives.
So What’s Next?
With internet penetration in Asia still at around 28%, we can anticipate Asia to take up a more prominent role in driving the growth of the Sharing Economy in the next few years as connectivity also increases.