“Sharing Economy” Could Reach $335 Billion by 2025, But Will It Get a New Name?

As trust among users and providers grows, so do the billions, according to a new report.

Airbnb has jumped at opportunity in Cuba’s tourism industry. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

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Whatever the controversies surrounding services such as Uber and Airbnb — from the contractor vs. employee debate to municipal regulation — the “sharing economy” boom in users and outreach is staggering.

Uber is cashing in on billions of dollars of new investments. Just last week, the ride-service app company expanded into New Delhi to support rickshaws on call.

A Chicago B&B will start booking exclusively through Airbnb this summer (a city first), and the “room-sharing” firm is jumping on tourism industry potential in Cuba.

A new PricewaterhouseCoopers report predicts the so-called “sharing economy” will greatly expand in the next 10 years, prompting other industries to incorporate the trend into business plans.

PwC’s survey found that 44 percent of adults are familiar with “sharing economy” companies and that most of them will use them in the next couple years, stressing the convenience and accessibility of these companies as an important factor. However, the report also raised the concerns those polled had about the services: inconsistent quality or service, and lack of trust between the consumer and provider.

“Trust, convenience and a sense of community are all factors in pushing adoption of the sharing economy forward,” read PwC’s report. “The innovation clock is now set to fast-pace, and will get even faster as consumers become more trusting of relationships tied to social sentiment and communities of users.”

The companies are most popular among young consumers, while providers typically run from mid-20s to mid-40s.

The global revenue from “sharing economy” companies, according to the report, is estimated at $15 billion, and that figure’s projected to increase to approximately $335 billion by 2025 — despite the trust issues.

Though PwC used the “sharing economy” label, the report noted the debate over terminology:

As we spoke with industry specialists, it was clear that no single label can neatly encapsulate this movement. For some, the word “sharing” was a misnomer, a savvy-but-disingenuous spin on an industry they felt was more about monetary opportunism than altruism. Yet in between the haggling over the most-accurate moniker, there was uniform agreement that the so-called sharing economy is getting very big, very fast — and is something that business executives very much need to tune into.

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Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

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Tags: uberairbnbsharing economy

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