Business / Economy

Asia embraces sharing economy

By Cornelia Zou in Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-22 10:46

In Indonesia, for example, a number of new startups tailored to the market have sprung up, such as Go-Jek, which facilitates the sharing of motorcycle rides.

In a 2014 survey, market intelligence firm Nielsen found that 87 percent of Indonesians are likely to participate in a sharing community compared to about 66 percent globally.

Nielsen also found that people in the Asia Pacific are the most willing in the world to share resources, at 78 percent. The region also has the highest percentage eager to rent from others, at around 81 percent.

In North America and Europe, only about half of respondents are willing to share and even fewer would pay to share somebody else's apartment or car.

According to research firm CB Insights, by February there were numerous companies involved in the sharing economy that had made it into the ranks of the largest 151 privately owned enterprises. Each had a value of over $1 billion.

Among this group are Chinese car-sharing company Didi Chuxing, as well as the US-based Uber and Lyft. House-sharing service Airbnb and cloud-sharing service provider Dropbox are included, as is, a Chinese company providing travel services.

The sharing economy has emerged as a key driver of economic growth in Asia and around the world. China wants to develop between five and 10 mega platform-type enterprises involved in the sharing economy over the next decade.

In a government work report on March 5, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the government will "support the development of the sharing economy, increase the availability of resources, and bring prosperity to more people".

In February, the National Information Center and the Internet Society of China formed a working committee focused on the sharing economy.

The committee has already released the country's first report focused on the development of the sharing economy, which was worth almost 2 trillion yuan ($307 billion) in 2015 and involved 500 million participants in sharing activities.

It also forecasts that the market will grow by almost 40 percent each year over the next five years and will account for about 10 percent of China's GDP by 2020.

The report defines the sharing economy as "a new economic pattern that appears at a certain development stage of the information revolution" and has six major features: It is based on a platform provided by the Internet; it includes participation of the public; it features high mobility and fast distribution of resources; its ownership rights do not change; it provides a good experience to users; and it focuses on the efficient use of resources rather than ownership.

Changes in income levels in China have created a class of consumers with higher incomes and who are more focused on personal experiences and value.

At the same time, participating in the sharing economy makes it possible to earn extra income by offering fractional time and services.

This is a big reason why the sharing economy has made inroads in China in areas such as finance, living services, transportation, knowledge and skills, and short-term rentals.

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