Easy saying sharing economy. This new economic model, through thick and thin, green and skeptic, seems to have become definitively established, driven by the development of technological platforms able to match supply and demand in a fast and effective way, by the growing attention to environmental sustainability, by the opportunity of economic advantages, by the preference for systems that guarantee access to resources without the constraints of ownership. Worldwide and in Italy as well, the sharing economy, which involves incumbents, public administrations, but above all startups, continues to evolve, now developing in different forms.
A new report of the Startup Intelligence Osservatorio of Politecnico di Milano, enabled to structure these different forms of sharing economy and identify the companies/startups operating in this sector. The result is 195 startups surveyed at an international level in the areas of P2P Lending, Pseudo-Sharing, Gig Economy, Professional Services, Pooling Economy, for a total investment collection of 4 billion dollars; 26 startups surveyed also in Italy, for a total amount invested of 23 million, including Supermarket24, ProntoPro and Moovenda stand out as the most financed.
Supermarket24, an online shopping platform with home delivery even in an hour made by shoppers (anyone can become one of them) has so far raised about $5 million; $3.7 million has been raised by ProntoPro, a professional marketplace for occasional services; and $2.2 million by Moovenda, the platform for home food delivery.
The survey examined only startups founded in the last five years, which have obtained investments in the last two years and where sharing is central to the business model.
Below is a definition of clusters and the indication of some of the industry players. The dominant feature, the enabling basis for any form of sharing, is the technological platform.
Its feature is that the sharing object is a tangible good and the exchange takes place between peers (C2C and B2B models). The platform is a match-maker, linking supply and demand. The offeror can recover the cost of the goods by providing them to others when not used, in exchange for a cash payment; the receiver can benefit from the goods without having to bear the economic burden of ownership.
Startup: Paladin, Liquidspace.
A group of B2C initiatives in which a company, owner of the platform, gives access to a pool of tangible assets. The initiatives within this cluster are different from traditional rental thanks to the platforms, enabling highly automated real-time transactions.
Startup: Mobike, Enjoy
It mainly concerns C2C initiatives where a combination of product and service is shared. Unexhausted goods are made available to other users by providing a service through the use of these resources. Again, the platform is a match-maker.
Startup: BlaBlaCar, Couchsurfing, Airbnb
These are mainly C2C initiatives. The platform is a match-maker and roles are generally interchangeable. Shared services are those performed by “peers” in the form of occasional short-term activities.
Startup: Supermercato24, Taskrabbit
It gathers initiatives very similar to those of the Gig Economy cluster. Again, services are exchanged here and the platform is a match-maker. The main difference is the features of the players involved, which cannot operate on both sides, as offerors and receivers as well.
Startup: ProntoPro, Mathesia
Sharing economy in the insurance industry
The insurance industry is now very interested in sharing the economy, although there are still no insurtech startups that can be included in the cluster list proposed by the Startup Intelligence Osservatorio, which reports only one US startup that deals with insurance, Eusoh.
Many insurtech startups actually rely on the concepts of sharing economy, perhaps to define a minor side aspect of their insurance model or to create “purchasing groups” where actually there is a sharing, but just of the risk. Lemonade, Friendsurance, Guevara, Inspeer, TongJuBao, or the Italian Axieme and Darwinsurance, we have spoken about it here, are some examples of such an approach.
However, the main issue is that the sharing economy raises new challenges by creating new insurance needs to be met.
According to Ian Campos – Executive Vice President within the Global Business Unit of Global Financial Services of Capgemini and head of the Global Insurance Services team, whose original text can be read in English here, the sharing economy opens up new opportunities, but also a set of risks that insurance policies have not covered yet. Traditional policies for homes, cars and personal property do not cover sharing opportunities.
No wonder that startups have so far taken charge of offering policies tailored to the sharing economy. A case in point is Slice, New York, which offers landlords in 20 states an on-demand insurance solution for their property for rent on peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms. Recently, Slice started testing its pay-per-use product for private drivers in services such as Uber and Lyft. SafeShare, based in the UK, has developed a blockchain-based insurance product designed for sharing platforms. In partnership with Vrumi, a startup for the exchange of P2P offices. Together they provide coverage for landlords dealing with losses related to damage and theft from their tenants; Zego, a London startup that provides pay-as-you-go insurance for delivery service workers.
However, there are also cases of partnership between P2P platforms (the large ones) and traditional companies. For example, Airbnb has partnered with Lloyd’s, London, to provide a “Host Insurance Protection” policy to protect Airbnb landlords.