GEORGE TOWN, Sept 9 — Malaysia can offer an abundance of room for the sharing economy to grow in view of the presence of companies such as Grab, Airbnb and Foodpanda, and this sector will become an increasingly essential piece of the overall economic pie in the current digital era.
World Economic Forum Independent Advisor April Rinne said the emergence of the modern sharing economy would create a new revenue source by utilising the nation’s under-utilised assets coupled with today’s technology.
She said the effective use of under-utilised assets owned by individuals, ideally those with high cost and low-frequency of use, such as vehicles, power tools, rooms and even baby clothes, could generate extra income by sharing those in need but also, if implemented correctly, build communities from its social value through decentralised networks via online or mobile application platforms.
“An average person uses a power drill for around 16 minutes of their life, and leaving it idle seems to be such a waste, in terms of usage and money.
“Instead, if you treat it as a shared asset, such as a tool library, not only can the tool be used more efficiently, but it also save costs and can even earn extra income,” she told Bernama.
Rinne said Malaysia had done fairly well in terms of growing a sharing economy but there is room for improvement.
She suggested that visionary leadership would be required to define what would be a sharing economy for Malaysia and work towards that definition.
“The definition of ‘sharing economy’ varies for different countries and is based on the benefits sought.
“The three common aspects of the sharing economy are economic, environmental and social.
“Sweden, for instance, is focusing on environmental and thus, their businesses prioritise environmental sustainability,” Rinne said.
However, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Director Darzy Norhalim said the rise of sharing economy businesses clearly benefited consumers due to its convenience and accessibility.
However, he said it also created disputes with traditional business industries and the government sector.
“The disputes include local taxi drivers protesting against ride-sharing companies and concerns if home-sharing companies such as Airbnb hurting the hotel industries,” Darzy said.
Darzy said the government is trying to form a regulatory framework for sharing economy businesses to ensure a level-playing field against traditional businesses.
“Sharing economy businesses do not hurt traditional industries. Rather, it helps to grow business opportunities in the overall economy.
“These businesses have created awareness on the need for services in various areas such as tourism and logistics. Now, more people will be involved in the respective sectors and demand for such services will increase which will also bring a positive impact for traditional businesses,” he added. — Bernama