Adaption of regulations and business models are just some of the changes needed to keep aligned with the growing shared economy, experts at “The Future of the Sharing Economy -- and How Korea Can Benefit from it” conference claim.
The conference, hosted by Agoda Outside at The Plaza Hotel in Seoul, brought together leaders from government, research institutes, academia, and business to discuss and debate the business of sharing and how it is rapidly changing the world as we know it.
Although disruptive and not free from challenges, the sharing economy is here to stay. At this thought leadership event, the experts discussions centered around this new economic movement and how it brings significant benefits in many areas including accommodation, transport, and IT.
They also addressed several important questions, such as how the sharing economy has changed the way we live and do business in Korea, the obstacles and limitations that need to be overcome for it to thrive, and what needs to be done to create a healthier ecosystem to make it work.
The sharing economy interacts with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, creating a fusion between the physical and digital worlds, according to keynote speaker Lee Min-hwa, chairman of the Korea Creative Economy Research Network (KCERN). He elaborated how sharing economy platforms create both social and business value, while also highlighting the regulatory challenges the market faces as a result.
Prof. Park Chang-gyun of Chung-Ang University Business School also emphasized the dilemmas regulators are currently addressing with the sharing economy in Korea, stressing that regulation should be designed to strike a balance between regulatory needs and innovative activities.
The overall sentiment for the sharing economy is mostly favorable, claims Choi Gong-pil, director of the Center for Finance and Technology at the Korea Institute of Finance (KIF), who spoke on the current status of social capital for the sharing economy. He added the lack of leadership in Korea for consensus-building could be an obstacle to the sector’s growth in this market.
Kim Min-hyun, CEO of AI Networks, called for more sharing of computer resources to speed up the development of artificial intelligence in Korea, noting that participation in open source for Korean developers is only 1.2%, a number he says needs to be raised to strengthen the global competitiveness of Korea’s IT industry.
“The sharing economy is a hot topic in Korea, placing traditional companies, start-ups, individuals, and regulators at the forefront of the debate,” said Peter Allen, managing director of Agoda Outside, during his opening remarks.
Agoda is one of the world’s fastest-growing online travel booking platforms. Established in 2005, the startup quickly expanded in Asia and was acquired in 2007 by Booking Holdings Inc. – the world’s largest seller of rooms online. It is headquartered in Singapore.
Agoda Outside is the latest undertaking from Agoda. It focuses on ideas, research, the exchange of information, philanthropy, and outreach.
“Because the sharing economy operates differently from the traditional economy, it will require adaptation in such areas as regulation, taxation, business models, and jobs – but disruption is not always negative,” Allen said. “If we look specifically at shared accommodations, they have the potential to expand the size of the travel market, spread wealth by bringing revenue to hosts and local businesses, create new jobs, and even increase sustainability.”
Following the presentations, Allen moderated a panel discussion with the speakers and attending leaders who deliberated on solutions for shaping the future of the sharing economy in Korea.