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The collaborative economy links individuals as buyers and sellers, improving the lives of consumers as it makes things more convenient. Examples of digital platforms include the house-sharing platform Airbnb which rents out people’s home for vacations and car-sharing platform Uber/Grab which gives people rides across the cities/countries as taxis.

The collaborative economy also sees the rise of platform co-operatives. A platform co-operative (co-op) is a co-operatively owned, democratically governed business that establishes a computing platform, and uses a protocol, website or mobile app to facilitate the sale of goods and services.

Unlike corporate “sharing” platforms, a platform co-op upholds the International Co-operative Alliance’s co-operative principles as it distributes ownership and management of the enterprise to its participants with a mission to improve the common good, job security and benefits. Below are some success stories.

  • Stocksy is an artist-owned co-op that sells stockphotography and video footages. The co-op, which is based in Victoria, British Columbia, is built on the idea that the artists who contribute photos/videos to the site should receive fair pay and have sustainable careers. Artist-members license their photos/images to Stocksy and will receive 50 percent of a Standard License Purchase and 75% of an Extended License Purchase as well as a share in the company.
  • Modo is a Vancouver-based carsharing co-operative. Member-owners are shareholding members of the co-op, which means they make decisions collectively through voting. It was incorporated in 1997 with just two cars and 16 members. Today, it has more than 16,000 members and a fleet of over 500 sports cars, sedans, trucks, SUVs, vans, and hybrids — all of which are available at $4/hour through their mobile app and website. Modo is the first carshare co-op in North America.
  • Fairmondo is a co-op owned online marketplace with a focus on fair commerce. Originated from Germany and has expanded to the UK, it is owned by local users and provides an alternative to eBay and Amazon.

 

Platform Co-ops in Singapore?

Singapore’s push towards better living through technology has seen some corporates embarking on digitalisation journey. Below are few examples:

  1. CCRManager Pte Ltd, founded by a group of seasoned banking and technology professionals in 2017, invests and operates technology platforms and financial solutions for the global trade and working capital industry such as enabling financial institutions to list the assets for distribution, firm up deals and exchange the necessary documentation through a secured platform.
  2. KPMG in Singapore launched “Digital Village,” an online platform aimed at stimulating collaboration between corporates and the start-up community.
  3. Singapore-based start-up DEX and PwC Singapore jointly developed a blockchain-based platform for data owners and buyers to transact and share data.


Singaporeans can come together to form platform co-ops or existing co-ops can ride on this digital wave to create platforms where collaboration can happen to address the needs of society. Some potential business opportunities are car-sharing service (similar to Modo), caregiver service etc.

 

References:

  1. What is a Platform Co-op, Shareable.net
  2. Platform Co-operatives Creating A Real Sharing Economy, Shareable.net
  3. Owning is The New Sharing, Shareable.net
  4. Platform Cooperativism Taking Back Internet, The News Coop
  5. What Are Open Co-ops and Platform Co-ops, Shareable.net

 

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Singapore National Co-operative Federation
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Email: sncf@sncf.org.sg
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