Rajivpatel

BUSINESS COLUMNIST FOR SWISS RADIO AND TELEVISION

Follow Rajiv and watch his videos on Facebook and Twitter.

Rajiv Patel is economic attaché at the Embassy of India in Berne and business columnist for Swiss Radio and Television. He has a degree in finance from the University of Delhi and does management consultancy for large corporations worldwide. He enjoys cricket, sudoku and love songs.

What’s so great about the "sharing economy"?

Dear Rajiv,

What’s so great about the "sharing economy" ?

Kevin G., Bogota

First, let us look at what is not so great about the regular economy. When my dear auntie Indira came to visit me last year in Berne, I booked her a 4-star hotel near Zytglogge. Nobody helped her carry her suitcases up to her 400-dollar-per-night room, and the lady at the reception was about as friendly as a cactus. Auntie Indira was quite shocked. This year, I found her a 3-room flat on Airbnb for half the price, with some bounder named Reto who brought her fresh bread and fruit every morning for breakfast. Now my auntie is totally crazy about Airbnb (and oh dear, she’s crazy about Reto, too).

Car-sharing services like Uber are also increasingly popular all over the world. Back home in Mumbai it can take over two hours to drive from north to south. True, I’m in my chauffeur-driven Bentley, so I don’t care, but nobody wants to waste time in traffic jams among the plebs. What we need is to get more people to use less cars. The sharing economy will help us do that.

Sooner or later, these new services will eliminate lousy hotels and taxi companies if they don’t innovate. Yes, even here in Switzerland, people may be going out of business. But overall, service will get better and costs will go down. And that’s really all that matters, yes?

Sharing is also likely to spread to other sectors. For instance politics: wouldn’t it be pukka if we could just “share” the best politicians via some kind of web-based platform and get rid of all the useless sods that waste taxpayers’ money? Or romance: imagine if we could rate partners online, switch wives during summer holidays, and get recommendations from friends before proceeding to purchase. It would rationalize this market and make things so much more flexible for everybody. I’m sure my auntie Indira would agree.

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