I was using Uber during Sibos in Boston, asking myself why hundreds of people were queuing under the rain in front of the conference centre when Uber car were due to arrive in less than 5 minutes if only you were smart enough to move 100 meters away and wait for them in front of the hotel nearby. Then, once on board, the taxi driver said : “you are a five stars customers” (rated by the drivers) and in certain countries you get free rides if you are consistently rated 5 stars…
Now, regardless the upside to get free rides, which in the big scheme of things sounds irrelevant, there is a bigger reflexion here : the shared economy gives you a new scale of trust that can be used in many circumstances.
As many frequent travellers with a NON unlimited budget (one of the very positives sides of living a corporate life, and having lived both I can definitely compare) I also use Airbnb, which I hope I don’t have to describe here, not to undermine how aware are my readers…
And will give a try soon to BlaBlacar, simply because I am spending way too much money in airport/train stations cabs and parking (especially in the Brussels Midi station parking often more expensive than the train itself !).
If you add to this my numerous deal on Amazon, Ebay, Booking.com and my mileage data on my frequent flyer(s) card(s) there is enough data to proof with a decent degree of certainty whether or not I am a good customer, whether or not I am nice to people in general or which lifestyle I am living (as I tend not to share a room in a busy apartment but to have a place to myself).
Funny enough, all these data are potentially available on my mobile phone as well.
Now, if I had a Kenyan citizenship and was a customer of M-pesa, the financial data you could extract from my phone (my mobile wallet) would be even more compelling for my financial solvability and my capability to borrow money as well.
This explains, in my humble opinion, the crazy valuation of these large shared economy players. I think investors are betting – simply – on these data being the best possible way to disrupt the way trust is given – or taken away – to people.
Is that simple.
The moment where ANY large corporation can apply this new trust dimension with a collateralised financial instrument, it will become the fastest, cheapest and more secure way to exchange value.
There is only one thing missing here : the SWIFT of data.
Only a not for profit, global organisation could be trusted as a super-partes data repository or at least data processor, no commercial entity could do it, at least on a global basis…for the same reason why few decades back the global standard body for the financial industry was created.
By the way, the model here would be exactly the same : data would be controlled by a neutral counterpart, and everyone would be allowed to build the services for the community (the Humanity being the customer, in this case) on the top of it.
A trustable, loyal, smiling and community-recognised person has the big advantage to become the best possible customer from any single potential provider in the world, regardless his or her credit score, bank history or less-than-three-months-old utility bill.
The question is : when ?
Often the answer is “not soon enough, let’s fill up my pockets and get to my pension as rich and powerful as possible” … that explains the lengthy and cumbersome road to financial innovation.