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Sharing economy according to Rachel Botsman, now it's time for distributed trust

The world's leading expert in collaboration and sharing economy, speaker at the 2017 edition of the World Business Forum in Milan, believes that at the basis of the sharing economy there is confidence, a disseminated and unstoppable "trust" enabled by online platforms
Donatella Cambosu

Trust and confidence, cherished concepts by insurance industry, traditionally based on these pillars. 

The insurance sector could therefore find inspiration in the evolution of the concept of trust expressed by Rachel Botsman, (well-known expert in the sharing economy, speaker and best seller author, creator of the theory of "collaborative consumption", according to the American magazine Time among the ten ideas that will change the world) speaker at the World Business Forum in Milan (Wobi) to talk about how trust, sharing and business are interconnected.

"For a long time man lived in the era of local trust, then when we started moving from the countryside to the cities, we moved to trust in institutions. Today there is a new form of trust, distributed  trust. Today we trust individuals rather than institutions".

Such a distributed  trust, key to the collaborative economy and the most famous companies that have made it a successful business - Airbnb, Uber, Lending Club, Blablacar, etc. - is enabled by technology, a playground on which the old players do not fell confident, which has allowed to break down old parameters for banks, insurances, institutions, allowing new players to enter the 'trust' market: the web feeds the 2.0 trust, today the lever of a growing number of economic activities, thanks to a top-down process where people are key players and closely monitor who is the recipient of trust, this is what Botsman defines "distributed trust". Technology is the mainstay of the sharing economy, thanks to its digital platforms connecting users, are always accessible from mobile apps, which through a social system of comments and ratings exchange allows us to know and evaluate who's on the other side, to trust a stranger, a brand, or an idea. Technology allows us to build trust with completely new systems.

"Trust is that force pushing us towards the new, the link between the known and the unknown: people do not want something totally unknown, but they prefer that the new becomes something more familiar for them".

The shift towards the collaborative economy is gradual but also unstoppable and has the potential to improve the production system, bringing out businesses and ideas with a high innovative content more in line with market demand..

However, Botsman also warns against technological risks, a topic she spoke about in her latest book "Who Can You Trust?", which was then translated into the intervention at WOBI "The Changing Rules of Trust in the Digital Age". Botsman emphasizes how fast sharing economy startups (Airbnb, Uber, Lending Club and many others) are transforming their sectors. She explains what are the forces that allow to establish, maintain but also destroy consumer confidence, deciding for success or failure of a business model depending on the ability of an organization to ride or not the "trust shift" in progress, namely the shift of public trust towards players who are not part of the traditional economic and social system. Botsman defines this shift as a "trust leap", highlighting the "leap" we make when we trust people, brands or systems that propose us to behave differently, rewriting the rules of every relationship, both economic and personal..

" Trust is like energy - she says at the end of her speech - and like energy cannot be destroyed ".


29 December 2017

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