Blockshare – Analyzing the Potential for Building a Direct Peer-to-Peer Sharing Economy on Blockchain

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Degree programme
Creative Sustainability
Offering one’s underused assets to strangers has become an acceptable practice in recent years. The Sharing Economy promises to bring people together, and opens up new forms of consumption. But while some praise it as a social movement, others perceive it as a negative form of neoliberal capitalism. What is sure is that the field is dominated by wealthy, commercial platform operators that earn profits from the value generated by the crowd. Accordingly, most Sharing Economy transactions are not taking place directly between peers, but are facilitated by powerful intermediaries. Blockchain is a technology based on decentralized peer-to-peer networks, and thus might make intermediaries in a number of industries redundant. This research aims to analyze the potential for building a more direct peer-to-peer Sharing Economy on blockchain. By focusing on the idea of a blockchain-enabled direct peer-to-peer Sharing Economy, this study explores a contemporary, real-world phenomenon. The empirical part of this study is set up in accordance with phenomenon-based research, and utilizes qualitative interviews with experts and practitioners in the field to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and limitations. The findings highlight the need to better differentiate between different transaction models in the Sharing Economy. Researchers should clearly define what concept they are analyzing in order to get meaningful, unambiguous results. Non-profit platforms operators in the Sharing Economy face similar challenges as commercial operators, but the findings suggest them to have very different starting points. Blockchain can offer a number of benefits beyond simplifying monetary transactions, mainly by creating trust between strangers. However, the technology is likely only part of the solution towards the creation of a direct peer-to-peer Sharing Economy. Platform cooperatives that share ownership and control amongst users could utilize the technology and eventually pose a threat to more centralized, commercial models. While the future development of the phenomenon is difficult to predict with certainty, the phenomenon is likely to persist and experimentation in the coming years will be a crucial element for its success. This study contributes new knowledge and initial insights on the phenomenon of a blockchain-enabled direct peer-to-peer Sharing Economy. It thereby contributes to the academic discourse in the fields of Sharing Economy and blockchain alike. It presents practitioners and activists in the field with new ways of organizing. By differentiating between different transaction models, it empowers users and policy makers to scrutinize prevailing Sharing Economy models.
Thesis advisor
Halme, Minna
sharing economy, collaborative consumption, peer-to-peer transactions, blockchain, trust, disintermediation, decentralization, smart contracts, platform cooperatives, phenomenon-based research
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