Sharing Economy

From ‘Uber yourself before you get Kodaked’ to ‘Blockchain yourself before you get Ubered’? – In the last decade, the sharing economy enabled the emergence of new services and created markets to exchange underutilized goods. Centralized sharing platforms like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb disrupted many existing business models. However, with the rise of the blockchain technology, many experts see these disruptors soon to be disrupted themselves. The blockchain seems to allow for true, decentralized peer-to-peer sharing at significantly lower costs. Incorporating smart contracts, the blockchain can not only keep track of property rights, but also enforce them. Start-Ups like La’Zooz and OpenBazaar set out to democratize the sharing economy and bypass platforms which extract fees for coordinating transactions.

In our research, we analyze the risks of the distributed ledger technology for Airbnb & Co. We will provide a comprehensive overview of blockchain-based sharing ventures and their business models. We analyze the current critical limitations of the technology. From here, we will derive implications for managers of centralized sharing platforms: How can the blockchain technology be utilized to streamline business processes and improve customer experience?

In a potential future of decentralized, crowd-based capitalism, the government as the sole regulator will make less and less sense. A de facto shift of regulation to platforms leads to peers becoming a part of the regulative body. Therefore, we evaluate how blockchain can help to rethink the regulation of decentralized markets.