In the past few months, I’ve been reading more and more about services that match (put together; connect) people who have something to sell or some service to provide with the people who are looking to buy it. This newer way of doing business, what people are calling the peer-to-peer economy, bypasses (goes around) the middleman (person between the seller and buyer, usually a salesperson). (A peer is someone who is like you in important ways, such as being the same age or with the same status, being in the same grade in school, having the same skills, etc.)
For a few years now, people have been using websites like Airbnb that match people who have accommodations (a place to sleep and stay) to rent for a short time with people who are visiting a city and want a place to stay. It could be as simple as a free sofa, bed, or bedroom to an entire apartment or house. This often cheaper and more roomy (with more space) alternative (other choice) to hotels is appealing (attractive) to many people.
More recently, people have begun to use smartphone apps (computer programs) to give and get rides (transportation in a car or other vehicle), similar to a taxi service. Instead of calling a taxi, you go on the app to see if someone in your area is available to give you a ride. In Los Angeles, for example, actors, musicians, or other people in the entertainment industry (business) with time between auditions (interviews for a performance job) or jobs can make some money this way. There are now companies that screen (check; investigate) a driver’s and car’s records and make sure the person has a proper license, registration (properly registered with the government), and insurance (an agreement with a company to help pay for damages or healthcare costs in case of accidents). Like renting a room in someone’s house, this type of ride service is typically less expensive than using established (already there) services.
New to me until recently are services that allow people to sell a place at their dinner table. Let’s say you’re visiting a new city or a new country and you want to eat some authentic food of that place, perhaps a home-cooked (meal cooked in a home, not a restaurant or bought from a store) meal. You can use these new services to find someone wiling to cook you that meal, or allow you to join them for a meal, and experience what it is like to eat with locals (people who live there) the type of food that a local eats.
For people who are struggling (having difficulty) in the poor economy of recent years, this type of peer-to-peer service helps to make ends meet (earn enough money to pay for the necessary things to live). For others, it’s a way to supplement (add to) their earnings (pay).
Are these types of services available where you live? Have you participated in the peer-to-peer economy? If not, would you consider renting out a room in your home, giving someone a ride in your car, or cooking them a meal in your own home?
Image Credit: Albert Anker-Stillleben from Wikipedia