Sydney – The collaborative economy? How peer-to-peer platforms are changing work, business, and policy

This event is one of a series on the peer-to-peer economy hosted by the Grattan institute. 

A revolution is sweeping through business and the economy. It goes by many names: the sharing; on-demand; peer-to-peer; collaborative economy. Millions of people use online peer-to-peer technologies to find matches for products, work, transport, accommodation and finance. Further afield, local energy providers are matched directly with customers, and new digital currencies on peer platforms are emerging, bypassing traditional institutions.

Businesses, communities and policymakers around the world are struggling with how to respond. 21st century innovation is outpacing the 20th century regulation.

Some envisage a wholesale alternative to today’s largely market-based system. Others argue that the new platforms erode labour and other community standards. What is sure is that not everyone will emerge a winner: the peer-to-peer economy is disrupting existing firms and industries and changing the very notion of a ‘job’.

The new platforms also pose policy challenges. Changes will be needed to address issues such as tax, licensing and employment laws in ways that protect both customers and providers on the platforms. But how can this be achieved without impeding innovation made possible by the new opportunities created via peer-to-peer exchange?

Rachel Botsman, a global leader in the analysis of the collaborative economy and peer-to-peer marketplaces, joined Dr Jim Minifie from Grattan Institute in a discussion on the challenges and opportunities this new economy presents.

– What are the key elements of the collaborative economy?

– How are businesses and governments responding around the world?

– Does Australian business fully grasp the scale of the challenge?

– How should Australian policymakers respond?


Rachel Botsman is a global expert on the power of collaboration and trust through technology to transform the way we live, work, bank, and consume. She defined the theory of the ‘collaborative consumption’, named by TIME as ‘An Idea that Will Change the World’, in her critically acclaimed book ‘What’s Mine is Yours’. Her TED talks on the subject have been viewed over two million times. More recently she designed and taught the first M.B.A. course on the collaborative and sharing economy at Oxford University Saïd School of Business. Her writings and research have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Wired, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New York Times, The Guardian, Australian Financial Review and other publications. Rachel is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and was named by Fast Company as one of the ‘Most Creative People in Business’. Her work has given her the opportunity to work with many great leaders and entrepreneurs, and has taken her across continents. But Rachel is proud to call Sydney her home where she lives with her two little children and Aussie husband.   

Dr Jim Minifie is the Productivity Growth Program Director at Grattan. Jim is a leading economist and writer, with a strong grasp of the Australian policy landscape. The program includes work on getting the most from technology and innovation, responding to structural change, and improving productivity in services. Prior to joining Grattan, Jim worked closely with Australian corporate leaders during his seven years as Chief Economist of the Boston Consulting Group.