Is India ready for a p2p rental economy?
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Is India ready for a p2p rental economy?

Using someone else’s belongings is always a taboo in India. The pre-owned market, from a car to a couch, has always been a tertiary option for consumers. While cars have a relatively easy time in getting sold, other things like electronics and household items go through some serious scrutiny. The whole thing comes from reservations about buying used products. That’s for owning. Could renting be any different?

What if you could rent the product without actually owning it. Not all products have a rental value associated with them. One would be better off in buying a microwave oven or washing machine than getting it on rent. What about some of the big ticket items like cars and free space? India is a potential market for p2p rental economy in cars and free space.

There is a strong movement going towards a rental economy. Ownership isn’t recommended for almost everything. Cars for example will be used for less than 10% of the time. A full 90% of the time, private cars remain idle. Quite a few start-ups are tackling this challenge by introducing a p2p rental service. Getaround is one such service which is gaining traction. Getaround service comes with a car kit, GPS and a tracking and management software for the smartphone. With this anyone can rent their car out without much hassle. India’s car ownership is growing by the day. As per Getaround, each shared car will take 10 cars off the road and reduce personal carbon emissions by 40%. If properly executed with subtle variations, p2p car rental economy could be a really big hit in India.

India already has warmed up to smartphones and car ownership. If making money is an option on a under-utilized asset, then people will come flocking to the idea. Only thing is  the car never was an asset. With the renting options, car could really be an asset.

AirBnB yet another exciting startup will let users find space for rent in someone else’s home. It works on a friends of friends concept. While the concept of letting a stranger live in your home might not go well with Indians in general, someone should give it a try. AirBnb isn’t just limited to renting out a space for a day or two. It can be extended to vacation homes and other spaces which are occasionally used.

If you are thinking that these US based ideas would never work in India, then I have to bring your attention to Groupon clones. I have lost track but there are more than ten groupon clones in India and they seem to be doing pretty well. A new groupon clone springs up at some corner of the web. And India seems to be embracing the group bargaining concept. The concept is nothing new to India as it was happening in many pockets informally. Groupon clones just took it to the web platform with a social topping to make things easier.

Groupon(s) worked because there is no risk attached to the consumer. Renting a car out is risky. Someone has to find a way around that rick and make it appealing.