Published on by Jon
The concept of access economy is a relatively unknown variation of the concept of sharing economy. Semantics aside, our impression is that large subsets of the Romanian population tend to be very positive to technological and economic changes and that they are quick to adapt.
However, the discussion on how to solve questions that arise from the growth of the access economy has only just started. The questions are typically revolving around taxation, threats to existing market actors and wage labor regulation. While these questions are very relevant, at the same time we believe that they are somewhat of a red herring; the questions are only relevant in a consumption-oriented growth-dependent economy.
What the access economy is really about is a fundamental change in how we exchange goods and services. At the same time the access economy is nothing new; it is the same way that we did before limited liability companies and a variety of financial instruments were invented – only this time we put it on the Internet. This represents a big difference from the past and the importance in how it affects a marketplace cannot be underestimated, as the Internet ensures that the entirety of the population has access to all information, all the time.
Moving from a market dominated by limited liability companies towards a democratization of the economy will prompt changes to the way that we organize our society. Will we for example slowly be moving away from a wage labor based society to a system of universal basic income and access economy? The access economy and its focus on resource optimization and democratization may lead to a green revolution, and the discussion about this has not yet even started.
The central element of the access economy is sharing resources. We believe that sharing resources is a need that lies deep within every individual, driven by a healthy mix of self interest and a desire of self expression. We, from PerfectKLIK, want to structure and promote these ideas through our online marketplace.
Apart of creating a web platform through which we want to encourage people to share resources, we have adopted also a business model that is very favorable for our users. Rather than working on a commission structure like other access economy platforms, we are working on a low flat fee. The fee is for access to the market place, while the contracting and payment is done directly between the individual actors of the exchange. We provide the structure, the people provide the content.
Working on a flat fee structure we are able to keep the market transparent in the sense that we remove our own incentive to promote one service over another because it pays better. It also removes the lock-in that suppliers and customers often experience when using other access economy platforms.
Most of the websites from the access economy provide a space where individuals can exchange services based on resources that already exist but are sub-optimally utilized. New marketplaces, like PerfectKLIK, open up possibilities for actors which previously did not have the means to participate. We call this a democratization of the economy.
Just imagine the wealth of hidden resources in the population. There are people passionate about painting or photography, people willing to do babysitting or dog-walking, people who own trucks for transportation, youth willing to wait at your party and many, many more. All they need is a marketplace where they can promote and exchange these services.
The spread of the access economy will inevitably generate regulatory problems, simply because the access economy is not compatible with the way we currently organize society. Society can answer in one of two ways: either impose regulations to maintain the status quo, where we are all wage laborers in a market dominated by limited liability companies, or adapt to the access economy. Adapting to the access economy means to redefine everything from the tax code to what it means for an individual be recognized the rights that should come with a productive member of society for example when it comes to health insurance, unemployment benefits, etc. It is here where the discussion on universal basic income comes in. This is already an issue for free professions and freelancers today, and will only continue to become more acute with time. In essence, creating value is equally valuable whether it is done as wage labor for a limited liability company or as a freelancer - and the rights derived from creating this value should be equal.
A democratization of the economy will help removing the distortion of the market that the current model promotes and contribute to the freedom of both the supplier and the consumer. It will remove the restraints from the invisible hand, contributing to a much freer market. It is important to note that this does not mean the end of taxation or regulation – it is just a different way of organizing the economy.
There is a strong relation between the environment and the birth of the access ecconomy. The environment is not a mythical creature that shows its wreath when upset, it is the world that we live in and it is affected by our every action. Unfortunately, as by accidental design, we have created a consumption culture and an economic system that is dependent on eternal growth. In fact, the current system would collapse if the growth stopped at status quo. Enough is never enough, and we keep promising more and more labor in exchange for goods and services. This is simply not sustainable and only benefits the few that are well positioned.
If we look at the financial crisis in 2007 as an example, where a large number of persons in the world lost their house. It was not the houses that suddenly evaporated into nothing, it was that the people had been led to promise more labor for the house than what they could deliver. This was made possible by one thing, and one thing alone: the financial services industry. The financial services industry offered products that allowed people to outbid each other outside of any control, driving housing prices to unrealistic heights. It is simple math: the houses were still there, but the price had been pushed unnaturally high. Suddenly many houses stood empty, people went bankrupt and lost their jobs. The rich became richer and learned that society will always bail them out. The poor became poorer and learned to beg for the privilege of working.
Since 2007 we have seen very few new regulations of the financial industry, and every day consumption drivers such as television work harder and harder to stimulate increased consumption. And what is the result? Factories running warm pumping pollution into the atmosphere and oceans full of plastic.
Powerful people with a lot of money have created a system in which the people are reduced to represent cogs in an economic wheel that is spinning out of control in a never-ending hunt for increased production. The population is working from paycheck to paycheck spending all their surplus on shiny new plastic. Having an understanding of the environment is not only disposing of your garbage in the appropriate container, but also having a different approach to the economic system around you. We encourage stimulating local markets and better utilizing the resources that exist among the people.
It is in this context that we need to re-think the economy. We simply need to start consuming smarter and more efficient and the access economy may be a first step in this direction. Only like this may we move towards a greener and more humane society.
The first Romanian online platform dedicated to the access economy, by S.C. PerfectKLIK Indie Studio S.R.L.