· Rapid growth tipped for the sharing economy in Europe, driven by disruptive brands like Airbnb

· To date, cars have been the most borrowed item, but sharing of holiday accommodation is predicted to overtake this

· Sharers make an average of €2,500 annually to supplement their incomes

The sharing economy pioneered by companies like Airbnb and BlaBlaCar is taking hold in Europe, with more than 150 million consumers expected to pool property or possessions over the next year.

An international study of almost 15,000 consumers across 15 countries reveals the profound effect that sharing technologies could have on economies worldwide, with participation predicted to rise in the next 12 months.

Nearly one in 10 (9%) in the US are already participating in the sharing economy. Europe is playing catch up with 5% participation but considerable growth is expected in the next year, with nearly a third (32%) of consumers saying that they will take part.

The ING International Special Report on the Sharing Economy defines the sharing economy as the utilisation of goods that would otherwise be idle or unused with payment being made in return. This exchange is driven and supported by digital technology.

The study reveals that certain European countries are leading the way in the sharing economy, with participation highest in Turkey (9%), Spain (6%) and the UK (5%), but this suggests that there is considerable scope for growth across the continent as familiarity spreads and more people turn their knowledge into action.

Handshake (PD)Cars are the most frequently shared items (9%) but holiday accommodation is expected to take the lead in the next year, with two in five (42%) saying that they will consider paying someone to borrow their holiday home. There is less willingness to share such items as clothing (4%), electrical items (4%) and household appliances (4%), with consumers preferring to have sole ownership of these items.

Consumers who have already taken to sharing items are benefitting financially, with average earnings of €2,500, suggesting that for some this could be an important supplementary income stream in the future. However, the vast majority of participants across Europe made €1,000 or less in the past year. Those participating in the sharing economy are most commonly well-educated consumers, aged under 35.

ING Senior Economist, Ian Bright commented:

“The growth of the sharing economy has been accelerated by new mobile and internet technologies that makes it easier and quicker to share.

“This is part of a broad shift in the way assets are utilised and entails a change in our conception of ‘ownership’, though clearly not everyone is yet convinced about moving to a society that takes a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ mentality.”

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