In May, the Consumer Choice Center published the first-of-its-kind Sharing Economy Index, ranking the best and worst cities in the world for regulations on sharing economy services. The top 10 cities according to the index are Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Kyiv, São Paulo, Tbilisi, and Helsinki. On the other hand, the cities of Prague, Dublin, Amsterdam, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Sofia, Tokyo, The Hague, Luxembourg City, and Athens found themselves at the very bottom of the list.
For better or worse, the world isn’t static: there have been some new developments in the field of sharing economy in the last few months. Many governments have used the pandemic as a precondition to hinder innovation, and yet platform businesses persisted and tapped the demand that challenges brought about by lockdowns and responded with creativity.
Let me start with some good news.
The UK legalises e-scooters
Electric scooters will become legal on roads in England, Scotland and Wales beginning in July if obtained through a share scheme endorsed by around 50 municipal councils. The scooters will be limited to travelling at 15.5mph (25kmph) and forbidden from use on pavement and sidewalks.
UberEats has been killing it during the pandemic
In the first quarter of 2020, Uber Eats revenues went up by more than 50 per cent globally. Uber Freight – an app that helps carriers make hassle-free bookings and allows shippers to tender shipments easily – grew revenues by 57 per cent. In July, Uber also launched a grocery delivery service, partnering with grocery delivery startup Cornershop.
Bolt is now available in Thailand
Today, Bolt, a competitor of Uber, announced that it has rolled out its services in Thailand. That’s a huge win for Thai consumers and riders.
Bolt said its pilot venture in the Thai capital has more than 2,000 drivers already on board and will offer better rates to drivers and riders.
“For a minimum of six months, Bolt in Thailand commits to charging drivers no commission for using the platform and offers fares 20% lower than other competitors,” the Estonian company said.
… And now some bad news.
Amsterdam regulates Airbnb further
In June, Amsterdam banned short-term accommodation rentals including Airbnb from operating in the three districts of its historical centre.
In other areas of Amsterdam, Airbnb will face new regulations too: hosts must acquire special permits, and renting out their apartments will only be allowed to lease to short-term tenants for 30 days out of the year to groups of a maximum of four people.
Amsterdam was one of the least sharing economy friendly cities, according to our Index, and this new policy only pushes it further down the list.
Lisbon wants to get rid of Airbnb
In June, Lisbon mayor has pledged to “get rid of Airbnb” once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
As part of the affordable housing plan, landlords afraid of their apartments lying empty can apply to rent them to the municipality, for a minimum term of five years. The city, in turn, will be responsible for finding tenants, through the programme targeted at young people and lower-income families.
Uber to face more legal battles in London
A dispute over whether its drivers should continue to be classified as self-employed has begun in the U.K.’s Supreme Court. In a second legal clash scheduled for September, Uber will appeal the loss of its operating license in the UK’s capital.
Despite grim predictions at the beginning of the pandemic, the sharing economy has survived though not without any losses. As with every service that has made our lives easier, platform businesses are extensively enjoyed by millions of consumers globally. Now that we know how great it feels to be able to ride an e-scooters, to rideshare, or to share a flat with locals, governments will have a hard time trying to rid us of those choices. The sharing economy is driven by creativity and entrepreneurship: what doesn’t kill it, makes it stronger.
The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.
The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org