Old caravan in backyard

Airbnb and Uber are just the tip of the new ‘sharing economy’ iceberg with a plethora of sharing apps providing opportunities for people to save and make money. Mike Rosenbaum from car park sharing app ‘Spacer’ says those aged over 60 are embracing the opportunities the sharing economy presents.

Mike is cofounder of The Sharing Hub, whose member apps provide services including pet sitting and car sharing. He says the sharing economy is growing ‘exponentially’ in Australia. ‘In 2015, it was a $15 billion industry and it's currently predicted to be a $350 billion industry by 2025,’ he says.

‘The sharing economy is really nothing new, but what I think has really allowed it to flourish in the last few years, certainly in Australia, is the smartphone and technology more broadly.

‘Before, people were doing it in more informal ways, so whether that was through the Trading Post, or a classified platform, or a local ad in the paper, or even as simple as putting a notice on the billboard in the supermarket. But the advent of the iPhone and technology has made it a lot easier to connect people who have an asset that they are not using with someone who wants to access that.

‘Apps have made it accessible and a lot easier for people to do; usually it's just a few taps of a few buttons and away you go.’

Appy customers

Usually, the app includes some type of insurance and customer support backup in case things do not go to plan.

Whilst Uber and Airbnb are well known, other sharing apps enable users to do quirkier ‘shares’ such as Wrappli, which pays users to have their cars turned into mobile billboards by covering them in vinyl wrapping emblazoned with advertising. Car owners get paid according to the amount of time they spend driving their vehicle around in the course of their day, providing mobile exposure for the advertisement.

‘There are some really good platforms out there that could help people make money or save money,’ Mike says.

Sharing for camping

One app that is popular with seniors is Camplify, which lets them rent out their campervan or RV when they are not using it.

‘I know a lot of retirees, my parents included, have caravans and they certainly would use them for maybe a few months of the year, but maybe they can rent them out the other 10 months to help with the cost of ownership,’ Mike says.

‘A lot of our early customers were empty nesters and perhaps they are open to trying new things and making some extra income. Once the kids leave home, they may no longer need to use their garage and can use it to earn extra money and make an extra $200 or $300 a month for really doing nothing. It's pretty good extra passive income.’

New sources of income

A growing number of people are using multiple sharing apps to supplement their income in various ways; perhaps looking after pets via one app and renting out their garage on another.

Of course, there are tax implications, with money earned via sharing apps needing to be declared, however, it may be possible to claim expenses. ‘You should check with your accountant,’ Mike says.

Want to find out more? Check out the Manningham Council’s Sharing Economy event at Doncaster Library on Tuesday 29 October.  Click here to find out more.