Over the past few years, tech has leveled the playing field in the developed world. In the digital age, everyone can be an entrepreneur, offering services to people at the other end of the world - or around the corner.
Renting out your bedroom through airbnb, buying groceries on Instacart - the internet matches supply and demand in real-time and allocates spare resources in a highly efficient way. Just last week I found a merchant through the Etsy marketplace who was willing to take on the bizarre request of bedazzling a pair of bowling shoes for me (don't ask).
The Collaborative Economy is certainly taking hold with 40% of the population in the US and Canada and 50% of the UK population using sharing sites, according to a March 2014 report titled 'Sharing is the New Buying' published by Jeremiah Owyang, the founder of Crowd Companies Council. The sharing economy is expected to generate revenues up to $335 billion by 2025, and its impact is predicted to affect nearly all industries.
So what if 2015 became the year when the collaborative model didn't just make it easier to buy groceries but helped emerging economies on their path to inclusive growth? What if it could be a force for social good?
In certain areas, we are already seeing mobile and digital technologies improving access to financial services such as payments, loans or insurance. In South Africa for example, the Social Security Agency has transformed the distribution of social benefits from cash to biometric enabled debit cards. As a result, millions of people get a safer, more secure way to access and store their money, often sparing them long, monthly trips to distribution centers. But above all, for many people, this is the first time they hold a piece of identity in their hands, giving them a sense of belonging and providing a bridge to a more inclusive global economy.
This week marks the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where industry leaders and heads of state will come together to discuss how to improve the state of the world. Our CEO will be there tackling the topic of advancements in technology offering unprecedented potential for economic growth and productivity.
Is the collaborative model a possible solution? Share your thoughts in the comments and if you have a photo that represents the shared economy, post it using #SocialGood. We'll take the best photos and responses and share them on @MasterCardNews.