Digital media have created completely new possibilities for the barter trade. Social networks, in particular, have made it easier for private individuals to share with people they don’t know personally and transferred the culture of sharing into the digital world. Almost everything imaginable is exchanged, lent and shared on the internet: food, clothing, services, books, cars, homes and goods of daily use.
The so-called sharing economy, as one calls sharing consumer goods or services via platforms on the Internet, has experienced a veritable boom in recent years. Innovative rental concepts, exchange and rental platforms are being developed almost every day, enabling joint use—peer-to-peer sharing (abbreviation: P2P sharing).
Four out of five Germans have already shared products or services through these platforms instead of buying them, according to the study “Future of Peer-to-Peer Sharing”. The offerings in Germany mainly cover the consumer segments of mobility (40 platforms), overnight accommodation (20), clothing (10), consumer goods (31) and nutrition (6).
Is the sharing community always about social motives? Are environmental aspects more important than financial gain? In a recent survey, P2P sharing users were asked about their motives. The results show that economic motives such as “saving money” and “earning money” play just as important a role as ecological motives (“making better use of resources”).
Wherever sustained trends develop, large corporations also want to be part of it. While the P2P sharing approach involves private users offering their properties or services to other private users, ”renting instead of owning” is often a business model of providers who rent cars, bicycles or the like to users in order to make a profit.
Sharing economy not only provides positive impulses. Platforms that offer accommodation are being criticized, for example, for renting out private apartments. As a result, housing offers in large cities in particular are becoming even scarcer and rental prices are being pushed up.
On the other hand, the potential of peer-to-peer sharing, whether for a car or household appliances, is great for a resource-saving future. Collective sharing avoids waste, saves energy and conserves resources. What often does not get into the view, but is a nice side effect: Fewer objects mean more space and money saving.