GLOBAL: Chinese consumers are more likely to use sharing economy platforms for holiday homes or car rentals than American or British consumers, according to a new survey, but in all three countries reducing risk has the potential to increase engagement.

Insurance firm Lloyd’s of London surveyed a total of 5,000 consumers, 2,000 each in China and the US and a further 1,000 in the UK. In addition, the survey also looked at 30 sharing economy companies to explore risk management, including Uber, Airbnb, and Didi Chuxing – the Chinese ride-hailing business.

More than two thirds (68%) of Chinese consumers agreed that the benefits of the sharing economy outweigh the risks, the South China Morning Post observed. For comparison, the majority (58%) of US and UK felt the risks were greater than the benefits.

Despite the American origins of some of the sharing economy’s most famous exponents, many US consumers remain unwilling to participate. Just under half of consumer respondents (49%) reported never having used a sharing economy service, while just 8% have provided an asset through a service.

Lloyd’s interest in the insurance implications revealed that consumers in the UK were the most likely to buy insurance when using sharing platforms.

Chinese consumers, meanwhile, tended to feel that insurance provision should be the responsibility of the platform, with 71% agreeing that platforms should safeguard their interests. Just 21% said it should be the asset owner’s responsibility to insure. Across all three countries, a majority of respondents (53%) felt that the platform should shoulder insurance, while just 32% said it was the owner’s responsibility.

For the providers, however, the report makes instructive reading, as platform-guaranteed insurance would make 70% of customers across the three markets more likely to use platforms; 71% of owners would also be more likely to put their assets on such platforms.

“In our work with sharing economy platforms, we’ve found that insurance not only enables growth, but can be tailored itself to grow along with sharing economy companies,” said Vincent Vandendael, chief commercial officer at Lloyd’s.

“Based on our findings, instilling consumers with confidence by clearly defining and protecting against risk can help remove barriers to engagement in the sharing economy”, he added.

Sharing economy companies have revolutionised key industries, but recent reports suggest that investors are cooling, especially in China, limiting the potential for scale-building early growth. 

Sourced from Lloyd’s of London, South China Morning Post; additional content by WARC staff