#Asia Is Asia the future of the sharing economy?

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As the ride-sharing wars intensify in Asia, can the region become the Mecca for the sharing economy?

INDIA

What’s mine is yours.

That is basically the epitome of sharing economy that has been accelerating exponentially in the past couple of years. A report from PWC projected that the top five sharing economy sectors will grow to US$335billion by 2025.

According to The Telegraph, 90 per cent of all sharing economy companies are found in North America and in Europe. So, what are the reasons to argue that the future of the sharing economy may be in Asia?

Asians love to share

Although nascent, sharing economy companies are emerging across Asia and in every sector. For instance; Travelmob which was acquired by Homeaway in 2013, is a Singapore based company which has a similar model to Airbnb.

Seekmi, a sharing economy model for services, is an Indonesian version of Thumbtack. It brings to the table the tagline ‘Live beautifully’.

Vanitee is a Singapore-based startup marketplace that connects beauty practitioners with customers.

According to a Nielsen survey, 78 per cent of Asia Pacific consumers are willing to share or rent their personal resources, a number 10 per cent above the global average.

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In addition, the survey also indicated that 81 per cent of Asia Pacific consumers are also more likely to engage with sharing economy businesses. This is well ahead of the global average at 66 per cent.

The sharing economy in Asia is thriving and will be the bedrock of future growth.

So, what drives communities around Asia to become more receptive with the idea of the sharing economy?

The Millennial generation is growing up

The majority of the world’s youth population is in Asia. Millennials are the most connected age group on the planet, consistently embracing high-speed internet and the newest model of smartphones.

As such, it is easy to predict that there’ll be a higher chance of participation in the sharing economy.

According to the same Nielsen Survey, 35 per cent of Millennials globally are willing to participate in the sharing economy, as compare to Generation X at 17 per cent and Baby Boomers at 7 per cent.

The survey went further to note that the Asia Pacific Millennial population has indicated a greater willingness to participate in the sharing economy (49 per cent) as compared to their peers in North America (18 per cent) and Europe (17 per cent).

Asian Millennials generally value accessibility to the utilization of property, goods or services more than the need for ownership.

Rising numbers of smartphone users in Asia

The explosion of cheap manufactured devices and a steep drop in cost of service plans have caused the drive in smartphone uptake across Asia-Pacific.

Although internet access in the pacific-region varies widely between urban and rural areas, the smartphone user in the region is expected to rise to 51.54  per cent (or 1.48 billion people) by 2019.

It is common for people living in developing countries to be introduced to the internet through smartphones instead of laptops or desk computers. Advancement in technology, when it is affordable, has allowed even the less developed regions to participate in sharing economy.

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For example, in Vietnam’s urban Ho Chi Minh City, over 50 percent of its residents have shopped online compared to 20 percent of the country’s total population.

There are many reasons why the sharing economy works well anywhere in today’s digital age.

Compared to the US, Asia is nascent when it comes to sharing economy. But the propensity to share — driven by sheer size of population, changing work landscapes, and growth in mobile technology — will make Asia the real hotbed for the sharing economy in years to come.

Kenneth Low is the CCO and co-founder of Arcadier, a SaaS company that powers next generation marketplace ideas. You can follow Arcadier on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for more news and updates.

Photo courtesy of Uber

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