The sharing economy is predicted to reach over $1trn in revenue by 2031, with services across sectors benefitting from new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, according to a new report.

GlobalData’s Sharing Economy (2024) report defines the sharing economy as “displacing the notion of ownership” by a system “based on ideas of community”. It refers to the sharing (often renting) of assets like clothes or cars, or services like household skills or insurance.

Well-known examples of sharing economy platforms include Airbnb and Uber, neither of which owns the assets they offer. Instead, they facilitate the ‘sharing’ of these services and assets.

AI enhancement for the sharing economy

New technologies offer new opportunities within the sharing economy. As AI’s capabilities progress, so does its potential to enable services.

According to the report: “New technologies such as generative AI allow sharing economy platforms to enhance their services. Companies such as Airbnb and Lemonade have integrated AI into their offerings to provide more personalized recommendations or more efficient services. As AI develops, sharing economy platforms will use it to understand their consumers better and provide more personalised offerings.”

Lemonade, used as an example of AI integration in the report, uses the technology to handle insurance claims submitted by customers and to offer near-instant responses. However, the company’s journey has not been straightforward, and it caused some concern amongst customers in 2021 when it shared in a tweet that it “carefully analyses” customer videos “for signs of fraud,” including “non-verbal cues.”

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The customer response was one of mistrust, as consumers believed that Lemonade was using its AI to approve or deny claims based on appearances. The company scrambled to correct itself, but, for many, confidence was lost.

Anxiety around AI is abating, though. In GlobalData’s Q4 2023 Tech Sentiment Poll, 89.4% of 365 respondents felt that they either fully or partially understood AI, putting it above cybersecurity and robotics for comprehension. Additionally, 56.2% of respondents felt that AI would live up to all of its promises, and 36.3% felt that, although the technology was hyped, it would be useful.

GlobalData’s recent report also highlights Airbnb’s use of AI. In February 2024, the company announced that it would be using AI to develop a concierge-like service to make recommendations for customers visiting new places in the hope that it would improve the service’s offering.

Rented holiday accommodation is a particularly successful part of the sharing economy. Airbnb and saw the most hires between them over the past year, posting over 1500 jobs.