Sharing Economy is about many things. But from the business proposition perspective sharing economy is basically about exploiting underused assets more. I’ve got a car that it’s most of time still at the parking space, so why not to get some cash renting it when I’m not using it?
When talking or writing about sharing economy (which is a lot lately) the reference is usually a peer to peer interaction, an agreement between two people. But same kind of idea can be applied to companies and businesses. For sure the reason it’s not happening more often is not the lack of underused assets. Ownership over access has been a default option for most of organizations in a 20th century where there was not necessary as much flexibility or minimum costs to compete as it is nowdays.
There is also of course the trust issue, a barrier to sharing economy that equally affects P2P or B2B interactions. But If a person is worried about how somebody who does not know will treat her car, organizations are more used to deal with this kind of mistrust using contracts, lawyers and threatening plaints. Nevertheless, a different kind of mindset is necessary for the kind of sharing that companies could really benefit from. A Co- mindset is mandatory when is not just about using physical assets for a price, but key intangible assets as the brand or customer service are involved.
Still, companies sharing assets will be an increasingly necessary practice in a world of access over ownership powering innovation acceleration and “lean start-up” kind of projects, as shown by an increasing number of examples.
USAA Easy Deposit
USAA Bank, providing insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 8.2 million members of the U.S. military and their families, was the first financial institution to offer remote deposit capture in retail outlets. Its service USAA Easy Deposit started in 2011 providing the convenience of depositing checks at more than 1,900 pre-identified UPS Stores, turning those postal service premises into a sort of part-time banking branch offices for USAA Bank customers.
Kiala is a relatively new player in the postal service market. They started offering postal services with a business model based on not owning any premises at all for their customers to deliver or pick up parcels but, instead, using any local business (from appliances stores to stationer’s) to conform a network of collection points. Today, such a network accounts for over 11,700 points in 7 European markets. By the way, in February 2012, Kiala joined the UPS group, and recently Amazon added a new service option for its Spanish customers enabling them to collect their orders at 1,200 selected pick-up points across the country which belong to the network of Kiala.
So if postal services premises can turn into banking offices and a stationer’s, for instance, can offer postal services, nothing better to close this full circle of examples than recalling what some banks are experimenting to obtain a better outcome of their bank offices spaces. Because, what can be considered to be a more potentially underused real state in the near future than that dedicated to banking?
This is probably what German Kreissparkasse considered when implemented in Ludwigsburg a new branch concept blending mixed-use retail with banking services. In this, traditional banking activities are limited to one-third of the venue’s floor plan, leaving space for a coffee shop, bakery, Lotto concession, Tchibo concession and newsstand, all paying rent to the bank.
As explained, this project is a good example of a Co- initiative on “sharing economy” going further than just renting an underused space: Menus in the coffee shop contain information about the bank; the newsstand stocks bank literature and other Sparkasse-branded merchandise next to the newspapers; and customers signing up for new banking services are incentivised with promotional vouchers for Tchibo products.