That the foundations of the global economy have radically changed in the last ten years is not a secret for anyone. Last October, a decade of the resounding fall of Lehman Brothers was celebrated, which meant for some the end of an era and, for most, the beginning of a journey through darkness that would engulf countries like Spain in a loop of unemployment, recession and cuts. Today, when the worst seems to have passed and economies across Europe are showing signs of recovery, it is time to take stock. The truth is that the remnants of that financial storm are still evident in the increase in precarious work, the unceasing increase in temporary employment and the impossibility of returning to the country for many young people who left during the worst years of the crisis. Of course, the radical change is not only given by the economic crisis, but by the unprecedented structural transformation that has led to the advance of the digital economy. Together, these two aspects have given rise to some conflictive situations and a capacity for consumption for middle-aged adults that is generally below that enjoyed by their parents. However, at the same time, these two aspects have also led to the emergence and consolidation of the so-called collaborative economy in many parts of the globe.
What is the collaborative economy?
Although surely we have all been users on more than one occasion in some sector of the collaborative economy, we still find it difficult to define it. Well, this is defined as the type of initiatives that are based more on renting, lending, buying or selling products based on the needs of the user, rather than based on a philosophy of production and profitability in series. That is, the difference in this case is that throughout the entire economic structure are creating market niches, sometimes of almost “microscopic” proportions, in which the users themselves adjust their supply and demand on the basis of to agreed market rules in that context. In this sense, we distinguish several main types of this type of economy, according to the characteristics of the service and the type of user.
Two of these varieties are collaborative consumption and collaborative production. The first is the use of digital platforms through which users can get in touch to exchange goods or articles, while the second focuses on digital interaction networks that promote the dissemination of projects or services. In the same vein, we also find the so-called collaborative finance, which encompasses all types of microcredits, savings, donations, and loans whose concession is based on the interaction between users. In the United Kingdom, without going any further, Cashfloat’s fast online loans are presented as one of these alternatives. Finally, it is worth mentioning the initiatives of “open knowledge”, which promote the dissemination of knowledge without legal or administrative barriers, with a special belligerence against the so-called copyright or copyright.