10 things other than bicycles that China’s sharing economy is monetising

Sorry, you still can't share a girlfriend or boyfriend yet.

By Yeo Kaiqi | July 10, 2017

Looking at the current state of Singapore’s and China’s bicycle-sharing system, you’d think the resource-sharing fad is doomed.

Guess what? More recent ideas driven by the indomitable entrepreneurs in China may make you think otherwise.

Riding on the concept popularised by bike-sharing companies such as Mobike and ofo , many Chinese startups have sprung up in different parts of China, each striving to bring into the sharing economy almost anything that they think can be passed along among different users.

Here are some things you can share in China now:

1. Umbrellas

Photo via Youbi Qushi
Photo via Zhitong Touhang via Gaoshan Liushui

Currently available in 12 major cities in China such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. Customers rent brollies by paying a refundable deposit and scanning a QR code.

But one company, Sharing E Umbrella, has lost most of its 300,000 umbrellas, just weeks after launching the rental scheme.

2. Electric bikes

Photo via Guangxi Zixun

This is a one-up from Singapore, where we can only have very limited rental of e-scooters.

A common mode of transport to get around the neighbourhood. Available in almost every city in China.


3. Mini Cars

Photo via Nanfang Zhoumo

Small little cars for a quick cosy ride around the city. Available in more than 10 major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hangzhou.


4. Books

Photo via Seke Saisi
Photo via Seke Saisi

You can now read a book on the train with these mini-libraries situated in the train stations. Just remember to return them at any train station.

However, this initiative has ended. But recently, in most major cities, more than 200 book vending machines are now renting books using an online borrowing and returning system, bypassing the need for a librarian.

Made available in Harbin, Heilongjiang.

Photo via Huxiu


5. Fans in Chengdu, Sichuan

Photo via Yucai Kuaiji Jiaoyu
Photo via Yucai Kuaiji Jiaoyu

Riding the bike under the hot sun? Just get a fan that comes with one of the shared bikes. Reportedly only available in Chengdu for now.


6. Phones in Weihai, Shandong

Photo via Bakesong Shouji Liansuo

You can follow the gadget trend at a starting rate of $3 yuan for three days. Currently available in most mobile franchise stores, online stores and physical stores.


7. Portable Chargers

Photo via Kexue+
Photo via Zhoukan Jun

Never lose power when you’re out with shareable portable chargers.

The initiative has also found its competitor with the recent new business idea of sharing wireless mobile charging stations in restaurants, theatres and cafes. It is reportedly available only in Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang.

Photo via 36kr.com


8. Mobile Data

Photo via Quwei Shangye Xinli

An app for you to earn some quick money by sharing some of your data with strangers. There has since been a few more competitors with the same business model.


9. Basketballs

Photo via Zhitong Touhang

Can’t find a basketball to play or reluctant to buy one? Rent one outside. Available in most outdoor stadiums and basketball courts of major cities, including schools.


10. KTV Room in Xiamen

Photos via Yanyi Keji Chuanmei
Photos via Yanyi Keji Chuanmei

Tiny KTV rooms you can rent in the middle of shopping malls. Strangers can see you sing through the glass box though. Available in more than 135 areas in China by at least five of such KTV companies.


How huge is China’s sharing economy?

Currently, in Singapore, we are able to share bicycles and e-scooters.

In the local market in China, the bicycle sharing-system still remains the most profitable resource-sharing business idea.

However, its dominance is expected to wane as more newfangled ideas appear.

According to iFeng News, the Chinese government is now expecting a growth of about 40 percent to $4.83 trillion yuan (S$982 billion) in the entire “sharing economy” of various resource-sharing companies, and they are also expecting this to account for around one-tenth of China’s GDP by 2020.

If this isn’t Socialism with Chinese characteristics at its best, then we don’t know what is.

Top photo via 36kr.com

About Yeo Kaiqi

Kaiqi believes she's the reincarnation of ancient China's royalty. When she's not deluded, she behaves like a cat hoping to conquer the internet.

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