Future of Sharing: The Emergence of the Commons-Oriented Collaborative Economy

Albert Cañigueral, the OuiShare Connector for Spain and Latin America, is a Barcelona-based sharing economy expert helping to organize the fifth edition of OuiShare Fest, which takes place this July in Paris. Cañigueral describes himself as passionate about, but also critical of, the burgeoning sharing economy. Cañigueral acknowledged that sometimes tensions arise between global, American-based corporations and smaller, local startups. Global companies like Uber face regulatory challenges abroad similar to those they face in the United States. In Spain, only professional, licensed drivers can drive with Uber, and Uber was banned from the country for over a year, returning in March 2016. According to Cañigueral, the primary source of tension around the sharing economy in Barcelona is related to rental prices and housing shortages. Barcelona’s City Hall is focusing on growing and building the “commons-oriented collaborative economy,” and is particularly interested in promoting open source software.

According to Cañigueral, the sharing economy in Spain and France is more commons-oriented than it is in the United States. Over the course of the interview, Cañigueral emphasized the importance of social impact to sharing economy thought leaders in Europe and Latin America. If we think of a platform as a country, said Cañigueral, then we need to ask, how democratic is it? How is it financed? “We need to move from what is technically feasible to what is socially desirable,” said Cañigueral. He also discussed how low levels of trust in Latin America affect its iteration of the sharing economy—for example, Uber is “very active” in Latin America, which Cañigueral attributes in part to the bad reputations of taxis. He alluded to the often-discussed potential of the sharing economy to build trust. Cañigueral is very optimistic about the future of what he terms “digital social innovation,” or using technology for the social benefit of the majority, particularly when it comes to the young people of Latin America. Government, Cañigueral believes, should not be the sole driver, but rather a partner, when it comes to developing and executing this digital social innovation. Cañigueral expects significant changes ahead for the sharing economy, both in terms of policy—”2017 is a year of clarifications,” he said—and in the way we organize cities around the world.