The concept of ‘Collaborative Consumption’ (let’s call it CC) is not very new in the West but it is in the East and especially in China. If you are not familiar with the term, CC basically means sharing what we have with other people, in a way that promotes access to something rather than ownership. You might simply think this is renting, but the internet has pushed it beyond that, and instead created much more powerful and popular ideas and business models.

The ‘Collaborative’ part means that we can utilize the assets of a group of people. Assets could be things like a car, a bedroom, time, money, skills…almost anything. The ‘Consumption’ part means that we can trade these assets to fulfil our desires. Much of this dynamic has been enabled by technology that allows us to create and form networks in a very efficient way. By connecting with one another online, the speed and scale of the network can grow so quickly that it is impossible to know each other on a personal level. All we can care about is, 1. Do they have what I want 2. Can I trust them to give it to me.

To explain what CC is in a more practical way, here are some famous examples from America. Airbnb, is a website that allows people with spare room to rent it out to other people. It was an evolution of Couchsurfing.org that allowed people to lend a spare bed for travellers. Launched at TechCrunch Disrupt, Getaround is a car sharing site that allows people to rent out their cars to people when they are not using it. Taskrabbit is a site that allows people to sell their spare time to other people, for example, if I need to someone to pick up my dry-cleaning or do my grocery shopping I can find them. Lendingclub is a site that matches money lenders and borrowers. Skillshare is a site that allows people to teach people their skills.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.