Whenever we talk about a sharing economy, it is Uber who always appears. Uber, the world's first successful transformation of the sharing economic system into a business, is the formula for all the sharing economic platforms that have emerged since then.
Recently, however, Uber has been suffering from difficulties around the world, being cited as the "top company that should disappear from society." The UK has 40,000 Uber drivers in the capital London alone. As many as 3.5 million people use Uber service. However, a series of sexual assaults involving Uber drivers and attacks using Uber vehicles have raised safety concerns.
In response, the U.K.'s London Transport Corporation notified Uber in September 2017 that it would no longer extend its license for public safety, saying Uber was negligent in taking measures to ensure the safety of its users.
It also ruled in November 2017 that the British judiciary should consider Uber drivers as drivers hired by companies, not self-employed. They say Uber and drivers are not a cooperative relationship that connects passengers and receives brokerage fees, but an employment relationship that requires them to guarantee legal leave and minimum wage.
The sharing economy, which has been on a roll, is facing a crisis. The sharing economy that generates economic profits by utilizing existing resources without additional investment is a new economic system that will positively transform our society. However, in the process of moving this into reality, a number of side effects are occurring.
The biggest side effect is the risk of crime. A growing number of people are suffering from crimes such as assault while using Uber vehicles. Accommodation and sharing services are also exposed to various risks, as they have given up vacancies to strangers in favor of them and have been driven to become drug offenders. The damage is significant to the price of using shared services at a low price.
Critics point out that the bigger problem is the deformed profit model, in which only platform companies gain weight. Uber connects drivers and passengers with its smartphone app and receives brokerage fees, but does not pay taxes to any country. It does not provide drivers with any benefits such as vacation or minimum wage guarantees.
Uber argues that paying taxes to the country and providing benefits to drivers will reduce its price competitiveness and thus reduce users' benefits. However, there are strong objections. The sharing economy-style jobs represented by Uber are mostly low-wage and temporary jobs.
Users are using vehicle services at a lower cost than taxis, but that's how much less they have to go back to drivers. They say the more calls, the more money driver can make, but in fact, it's Uber platform operators who make more profits. Uber earned $2.6 billion in the first quarter of 2018, up 70 percent from a year earlier.
As a result, some criticize that the sharing economy jobs have structured labor exploitation and become a means of making capital, not sharing.
Despite the controversy, however, there is no doubt that the sharing economy is the most optimized model for bringing together scattered resources and effectively allocating them. And as the desire for customized services increases, IT-based sharing-economy platforms will become the most efficient and affordable business tools.
The sharing economy is currently in a transitional stage, with a number of side effects highlighted. Therefore, it is necessary to come up with alternative ways to minimize various problems. The government should not rush to regulate the problem.
It is time to find a way to establish the sharing economy as an alternative economic system that benefits everyone as it originally was.